21 Aug 2014
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Ulman Heads Rally Against Pension Shift

Howard County department heads met to speak on potential program cuts if teacher pensions become a county expense.

More than 60 Howard County employees from the police department, Howard County Public School System, the county libraries and other county departments joined County Executive Ken Ulman Thursday morning in a Stop the Shift protest against a proposal by the state of Maryland to shift some of the costs for teacher pensions to the counties.

Ulman, past president of the Maryland Association of Counties, said he disagrees with Gov. Martin O'Malley's onto local jurisdictions this year, $17 million of which would fall on Howard County in fiscal year 2013.

The governor's plan, released last month, would combine the pension and social security costs and then split the total 50-50 with local governments.

O'Malley's plan includes millions of dollars in  offsets in the form of increased taxes and on not asking local governments to repay about $370 million in an income tax fund earmarked for local government.

Ulman says the state's passing of the Thornton Bill in 2002, also known as the "Bridge to Excellence," was a state decision to increase salaries and keep teachers in Maryland, and counties should not be held accountable for the debt.

"We all want our teachers to be paid what they deserve, but the state forgot to fund it," Ulman said. "Now that the state doesn't think they can afford it, rather than make the tough decisions at the state level to pay for it, they're sending the bill to counties."

Baltimore County is the only jurisdiction to and county leaders say the county can support the $3 million change.

"The governor's budget as submitted was designed to help the state government in terms of passing the costs on to the local governments in a form that gave the local governments back some revenue," said Baltimore County Aministrative Officer Fred Homan.

Ulman, along with county Police Chief William McMahon, HCPSS Superintendent Sydney Cousin, Board of Education Chair Sandra French and county department heads all listed programs and resources that could be cut if a $17 million burden is added to the county's expenses.

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