Pension contributions are a hidden income tax on state employees

March 29, 2011

How blithely you brush over what is essentially an income tax on only state and education employees. It seems that the pension system, supposedly in such desperate straits, can manage without the increased contributions required from state employees for two years; instead they will go into the general fund.

This is an income tax and has nothing to do with the pensions of the people being forced to pay it. It places an additional burden on people who have had years of furloughs and cannot remember their last raise. In addition, when these people retire the state will have to replace the funds. This is a rehash of the many times the state has robbed the retirement trust fund and it is the reason it is in trouble (if it is).

You seem to admire the attempt of the governor and House of Delegates to solve budget woes on the backs of state retirees. If you were trying to live on less than $2,000 a month (the pension my 40 year mid-level husband receives minus very hefty premiums for ever deteriorating health coverage) you might find the idea of paying an additional $1,500 (House version) or $9,000 (governor's version) a year for your prescriptions a bit overwhelming.

The governor, media and legislature talk about state employees, educators and retirees as if we were somehow guilty of a crime for taking our paychecks. As it now stands, many low level employees can no longer afford the health insurance premiums and choose to go bare. As the economy improves, the increased cost for health care and pensions will drive away the most capable and leave those nobody else wants. The changes in coverage for those under 65 may well violate Obamacare and prevent grandfathering of the state's health plan.

Heaven forbid anyone should defend government employees. I invite any of you to spend a day with me as I provide physical therapy to students of the Howard County Public School System so you will know that I and other government employees earn what we are paid.

Pat Brooks

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