MD Local Governments Fret over Possible Pension Cost Shift

September 24, 2008 ( - Local Maryland government officials say they will be in a tough spot if Governor Martin O'Malley tries to shift the state's $622 million teachers' pension costs to the cities and counties to help the state out of its dire financial straits.

Officials polled by the Baltimore Sun said the result of such a move by O’Malley would be local tax hikes or dramatic service cutbacks. “There’s very little I fear more than that,” Howard County Executive Ken Ulman told the newspaper.

O’Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec told the Sun that while O’Malley has a record of confronting state budget problems directly – and not through a transfer – there are no guarantees in the current economic situation. “The governor’s made it clear that everything is on the table,” Adamec said.

According to the news report, O’Malley now must decide whether to make the system whole next year or over the next 25 years.

“We’re fortunate to have a governor who comes from local government and understands these issues,” said Michael Sanderson, legislative director for the Maryland Association of Counties. O’Malley is a former Baltimore mayor.