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NEWS
April 12, 2011
Investing for retirement would be quite straightforward if there were only one economic scenario to consider and its incumbent risks to manage, but that is not reality. This is the central problem with the recent column, "Questionable Investment Strategy in Maryland's pension plan" (op-ed, April 11), in which the author envisions one economic scenario for the state's pension system: recession. In reality, the system's Board of Trustees works to create an optimal, risk-adjusted asset allocation that considers both the plan's assets and liabilities, in the context of multiple risks and economic scenarios.
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NEWS
By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun | May 19, 2014
The city pension board is requiring about 2,000 school employees to begin contributing to the municipal retirement system, a plan met with resistance by school officials, who say the district won't be able to meet the July 1 deadline. The school system was informed this year that some of its employees would have to begin contributing to the city's Employees' Retirement System for the first time in decades. The school employees affected include paraprofessionals, school police, cafeteria workers and central office staff.
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NEWS
October 25, 2010
The recent column by Marta Mossburg, "Maryland Retirement Fund: Paying for Poor Performance" (Oct. 12) offered undeserved criticism of the compensation awarded the State Retirement System's chief investment officer and unjustly questioned the integrity of the system's method of accounting. In the spirit of transparency and openness, I readily provided the columnist with information on both issues over the course of the last few months. Unfortunately, she chose not to share information that did not reinforce her expressed opinion of public pension plans.
NEWS
By Luke Broadwater and The Baltimore Sun | April 24, 2014
Baltimore unions and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake have struck a deal on her latest sweeping pension change, which would switch some new city employees from a traditional pension system to a 401(k)-style plan. The agreement -- which was passed by a City Council committee Thursday -- will give new workers an option of selecting a 401(k)-style plan or a "hybrid" plan that combines such an account with a traditional pension. Glenard S. Middleton, director of the union that represents city workers, said he negotiated with Rawlings-Blake directly on the issue and got about two-thirds of what the unions wanted.
NEWS
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun | March 27, 2013
The pension system for most city workers has nearly $700 million in unfunded liabilities, according to an audit released Wednesday. In contrast, the smaller system for elected officials — who contribute to their pensions — is in strong financial shape, another audit shows. City auditor Robert L. McCarty presented the documents to the city's spending panel, the Board of Estimates, along with annual financial reports that provided details about the fiscal health of the two systems.
NEWS
June 12, 2012
Marta Mossburg's recent column on state employee pensions cites the work of Joshua Rauh and Robert Novy-Marx to say how much more Marylanders can expect to pay to "fully fund the system" ("Shifting pension burden means higher taxes," June 5). To arrive at their specious projections, Messrs. Rauh and Novy-Marx employ a series of assumptions and methods that are both implausible and unrealistic, including projecting future economic growth far below the consensus estimates of recognized economists and assuming future pension fund investment returns of less than half what most investment professionals estimate.
NEWS
By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun | July 20, 2010
After taking hits for two consecutive years, the state's pension system saw gains well beyond its expected rate of return last fiscal year, officials said. The Maryland State Retirement and Pension System's portfolio returned more than 14 percent on investments, exceeding the assumed 7.75 percent assumed rate of return, according to the agency. The gains raised the assets of the system to $31.8 billion. The portfolio had a rough few years, dropping 5.4 percent to $36.6 billion in fiscal 2008 and then more than 20 percent last year to $28.5 billion.
NEWS
By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun | October 15, 2012
Baltimore County will borrow up to $260 million for its pension system and pay off the debt over the next 30 years, under legislation approved Monday by the County Council. The council's 7-0 vote will let the county invest the borrowed funds in the stock market, a move that carries risk but that county officials say will close a gap in pension funding while saving money in the long run. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's administration proposed the move, contending the county is financially stable enough to withstand the risk.
NEWS
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun | April 25, 2013
Members of Baltimore's fire and police pension board are questioning whether one of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's top aides should remain part of the lucrative pension system that covers sworn public safety officers. Administration officials say Robert M. Maloney — a career firefighter — has worn multiple hats within city government since becoming a deputy to the mayor in August. He is a sworn paramedic who responds to emergency calls, they say, while as a mayoral aide, he monitors agencies including the Health Department and the Mayor's Office of Information Technology.
NEWS
By C. Fraser Smith | November 11, 2001
IN THE winter of 1984, one Maryland legislator saved the state's pension system, preserved its elite borrowing power and ended a threat to the state's fundamental solvency. One man, one vote, one history-making moment. The legislature's bipartisan fiscal leadership gets credit for these accomplishments, but they were blocked until one citizen legislator did the right thing. Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, an African-American Democrat then representing conservative Carroll County in the House of Delegates, stepped up while others cowered in fear of a powerful lobby.
NEWS
By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun | April 21, 2014
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has filed a lawsuit against oil company BP over investment losses following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, alleging that the state's pension fund lost millions after the company misled the public about its safety protocols. BP made "false and misleading statements regarding its commitment to safety reforms and oil spill prevention and response capabilities," Gansler said. He said those misstatements gave investors like the Maryland pension fund unwarranted confidence in the company, which should "be held accountable for the losses that have occurred.
NEWS
March 14, 2014
I was not surprised to see Gov. Martin O'Malley fail to honor the state obligation to provide annual funding to the State Pension Plan to restore it to fiscal stability ( "Franchot, Kopp fight transfer of pension money," Feb. 26). It is pretty consistent behavior. What has amazed me is that teachers associations, including the state organization, MSTA, have lined up in support of this fiscally destructive move, despite the impact on the future welfare of their membership. The excuse given is that, without the pension plan dollars, education funding would have to be cut at the state level, impacting, for one thing, teacher salaries.
NEWS
March 4, 2014
A person works hard for many years to achieve a pension for retirement. It's scary to hear that Gov. Martin O'Malley wants to divert $100 million from the state pension fund for next year's budget and to make this a permanent happening. Thankfully, Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot appeared before the Senate to state how this withdrawal can affect the state's overall credit rating of the state pension money and what the withdraw can do to pension benefits and other matters ( "Franchot, Kopp fight transfer of pension money," Feb. 26)
NEWS
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | February 26, 2014
Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot warned senators Wednesday that Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal to divert $100 million a year from the state pension fund to next year's budget threatens the long-term health of the retirement system. The two officials — who make up two-thirds of the powerful Board of Public Works — made a rare joint appearance before the Senate budget committee to ask senators to find another way to balance the state budget. They cautioned that the agencies that rate the state's bonds are already concerned about the condition of the state's pension fund, saying the transfer of $100 million could prompt a reconsideration of the state's AAA bond rating.
NEWS
By George W. Liebmann | February 19, 2014
The state pension system is Maryland's financial Achilles heel and has been for decades. All bond rating services have noted that rising pension debt endangers the state's AAA bond rating, and the Pew Center on the States rates Maryland as among the most under-funded states. The pension board is a semi-professional board made up of 15 people, a third of whom have investment expertise. It is presided over by the state treasurer, who is elected by the General Assembly. Traditionally, state treasurers were boring but capable bankers.
NEWS
January 27, 2014
In Baltimore City, there are still pension enhancement programs in place (called a "DROP Program") to offer an incentive for active police officers and firefighters not to retire, but retired police officers and firefighters have gone almost seven years without any type of cost-of-living raise (including those injured in the line of duty, which is just shameful). The only exception to this is for those 55 years old and even then they get a paltry 1 percent cost-of-living increase. It should be noted that no other group of former city employees or retired elected officeholders have been frozen like the police and firefighters.
NEWS
By Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun | October 22, 2012
In a decision that could affect thousands of active and retired Baltimore County employees, a federal judge ruled that the county's pension system discriminates against beneficiaries because older workers were required to pay more toward their retirement than younger workers. U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg sided with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, finding that the county system violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. It is unclear what the financial impact on the county could be because the court has not determined damages in the case.
NEWS
December 31, 2012
Blaming CEOs for the current pension crises may address Scott Klinger's need to engage in class warfare rhetoric, but it does not address the root causes for the funding deficit facing private pensions ("Fix the debt? Fix private pension's first," Dec. 26). Retirees are living longer than anticipated while there are fewer active workers paying into private pension plans. The projected rate of return for most pension funds has fallen short because of a volatile stock market, a financial crises, a recession, low interest rates and a weak economy.
NEWS
November 13, 2013
City Councilwoman Helen Holton's proposed alternative to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's plan to put many future municipal employees into a 401(k)-style plan instead of a traditional pension sounds, on the surface, like the compassionate thing to do. Ms. Holton wants to keep city civilian employees who make less than $40,000 a year in a traditional pension and to place those who make more in a hybrid plan, the idea being that those who earn less can least bear the risks associated with the kind of defined contribution plan the mayor proposes.
NEWS
By Luke Broadwater and The Baltimore Sun | November 8, 2013
Opposition is mounting on the City Council against Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's latest sweeping pension change, which would switch new city employees from a traditional pension system to a 401(k)-style plan. City Councilwoman Helen Holton, chair of the budget committee, has introduced an alternative plan that would allow workers who make less than $40,000 - more than 70 percent of all municipal employees -- to keep a traditional pension. The alternative plan, which would require new workers to pay 5 percent of their salaries into the pension fund, would save the city $43 million over 10 years in upfront costs, according to Dan Doonan, an economist for the international union that represents many city workers.
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