Md. Rejects Lower Pension Return Assumption

July 19, 2012 ( - Maryland's state employee retirement system decided to maintain its assumption about how much it will earn on investments.

The 14-member pension board voted 11-1 to keep the rate at 7.75%, according to The Baltimore Sun. By keeping the rate where it has been for almost a decade, Maryland will avoid the roughly $12 million gap that a change might have created in next year’s state budget, but the board agreed to change several other assumptions — regarding longevity, turnover, salaries and other matters — that could force Governor Martin O’Malley to come up with twice that amount for the state’s contribution toward pensions for state employees, public school teachers and law enforcement officers, the news report said.  

Among the range of choices presented to the board by its actuaries and investment consultants was one that would have cut the projected rate of return to 7.5% immediately, and others that would have lowered the rate in stages to 7.5% or 7.55%.  

State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, who chairs the board, said the decision reflected the trustees’ best judgment of how the plan’s investments would perform over a 25- to 30-year period. “It honestly was a question of what we think was the most reasonable rate based on our history,” she said.