Kudos to Frank and Harris for tackling legislators' pensions

February 18, 2010

Much credit needs to go out to Del. Bill Frank and Sen. Andy Harris for their efforts to reform the state pension plans. A multi-billion-dollar actuarial deficit currently exists in the state employee pension fund. As a means of improving this condition, Delegate Frank, on the House side, put forth two amendments to a resolution, and Mr. Harris made a similar attempt on the Senate side. The first would have moved the legislature's pension plan away from a defined benefit plan to a 401k style defined contribution plan, saving the taxpayers $750,000 per year. This amendment had the support of all Republican delegates and two Democratic delegates. Del. Frank's other amendment would have converted the legislature's plans from their current structure to mirror that of state employees. Both amendments would have gone into effect in 2011, meaning that legislators would still get all the benefits they had already been promised.

Though unsuccessful in their efforts this year, Delegate Frank and Senator Harris did the right thing in proposing these amendments despite the lack of popularity among their colleagues. They are being responsive to the taxpayers who put them into office. Less than 5 percent of private companies currently use the defined benefit plan as used by the state. Delegate Frank and Senator Harris recognize that the public sector needs to adapt just as the private sector does to maintain itself.

Kevin Bruffey, Cockeysville

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