Teacher pension costs to be sent to schools?
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman has been talking a lot about the cost of teacher pensions lately. As he prepares to take over as the president of the Maryland Association of County's, Ulman has consistently spoken out against any shift of educator retirement costs from the state to local governments.
But what if he can't get the General Assembly to go along? This is a debate that has been simmering for years, and got especially hot last year as the Senate passed a plan that would shift more than $300 million in liabilities to the counties within the next several years. The measure died in negotiations with the House, but could be back.
If lawmakers go through with it, Larry Carson reports that Ulman would like to send the bill directly to the county school board. He argues they're the ones that decide how much teachers will be paid.
An excerpt from Larry's Political Notebook is below, but click through to read the whole thing.
"A state commission headed by former House Speaker Casper R. Taylor recommended a shift of some teacher pension costs after a meeting in Annapolis on Monday. The commission also suggested requiring local school boards to pay those costs as Ulman advocated, according to Andrea Mansfield, associate director of the Maryland Association of Counties.
That would benefit Ulman and other local government leaders because of the way Maryland pays for education, which typically consumes half or more of local revenues. Local governments levy taxes and then allocate money for schools, but school boards decide how exactly to spend it.
If pension costs are borne directly by school boards, those officials would have to wrestle with how to pay the bills, removing that burden from elected county executives and Baltimore's mayor. Instead, Ulman agreed that school board members would likely ask for more money from his administration, but he'd rather face that fight, he said.
"'It would pose a political challenge,' Ulman said, 'but I'm much more able to handle that.'"