MACo Presents Pension Initiative in House

MACo staff testified today in support of a bill that would add one county member to the State Retirement and Pension System Board of Trustees.  House Bill 390, State Retirement and Pension System – Board of Trustees, was sponsored by Delegate Melony Griffith, Chair of the House Oversight Committee on Pensions and co-chair of the Special Joint Committee on Pensions.  Delegate Mary-Dulany James, who oversaw the last change in membership of the Board of Trustees in 2003, is co-sponsor.

Delegate Griffith introduced the legislation at the hearing, sharing how MACo approached her in the interim to discuss the idea for the bill, and describing the bill’s elements, including the selection process for the new trustee.  Delegate James noted how the representative of county government would have substantial background in financial management and oversight of county budgets.  And, Delegate Bohanan distinguished the county member from another participating governmental unit representative, pointing to the necessity of adding a member in order to preserve a seat for counties on the Board.

The legislation reflects the recent expansion of county governments’ financial responsibility for the pension system, with last year’s teacher pension shift.  MACo is pursuing membership on the Board of Trustees to have a voice in the Board’s oversight and administration of the pension fund.  As counties assume over a quarter billion dollars in pension costs, a county member on the Board of Trustees will provide a seat at the table for discussions affecting the financial health of the Retirement and Pension System.

During the hearing, three groups representing organized labor opposed the bill, citing concerns that the county representation could “dilute” their current representation (already in law). Several Committee members asked about the specifics of this concern, noting the current law’s representation for the broader universe of participating governmental units does not necessarily result in a county government view.

The Senate crossfiled bill, SB 741, is slated for its hearing Thursday morning.

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