A news story on MarylandReporter.com said the state legislature created the new Public Employees’ and Retirees’ Benefit Sustainability Commission as part of this year’s budget process. It is supposed to examine the State Employees’ Retirement and Pension System, State Employee and Retiree Health Benefits System, and Teachers’ Retirement and Pension System.
The commission will likely hold its first meeting at the end of this month or the beginning of October. However, union officials are already warning of their opposition should the commission recommend cuts.
Sue Esty, assistant director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the current fears about the pension system’s sustainability are “way overblown.” According to the news report, over the years, Esty has seen the pension system’s funding level swing from 80% to 100% to its current 65%.
“Our state takes a long-term view of the pension system. People should not be influenced by a snapshot of the funding level,” said Esty, who expressed confidence that the funds would rebound.
The seven members appointed to the Public Employees’ and Retirees’ Benefit Sustainability Commission are:
- Casper Taylor, Jr., chairman. Former Democratic Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, state delegate representing Allegany County;
- Barbara Hoffman, partner with The Artemis Group, former Democratic state senator from Baltimore City and former chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee;
- Frederick Homan, county administrative officer for Baltimore County and former director of budget and finance for Baltimore County;
- Orlan Johnson, attorney with Saul Ewing and chair of the U.S. Securities Investor Protection Corp;
- Aris Mardirossian, founder of Technology Patents, LLC, Engineering and Technology Services, Inc., and IO Limited Partnership LLC, and member Maryland Economic Development Corporation;
- George Roche, former chair and president of T. Rowe Price; and
- Karen Johnson Shaheed, vice president and general counsel for Bowie State University.
There is a mid-December deadline for issuing an interim report. The commission’s final report is due 2012, in time for recommendations to be implemented for FY 2013.