Imagine the scene: Thousands of public employees taking to the streets, crowding the state capitol, denouncing changes to their benefits. Speakers denounce the governor; “enough is enough” they say, “leave our pensions alone,” and one employee for the Department of Social Services declares: “I am in an abusive relationship, with the state...”
A day in the life in Wisconsin? No, the scene I just described was of Annapolis, Md., on March 14. Thousands of state and county employees took to the streets to protest proposed changes to the state pension and retiree health plans, and many more came to denounce Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to fund K-12 education at last year’s level.
Maryland faces a $1.4 billion budget shortfall this year and after calling a special session in 2007 and signing a significant tax increase into law, O’Malley vowed to balance the fiscal 2012 budget without raising taxes again. During his tenure as governor, O’Malley has cumulatively cut nearly $7 billion from general fund spending. Those cuts, coupled with tax increases and federal aid, allowed the state to balance its budget every year. But the federal aid is gone and a slow economy continues to hit tax revenue.
That said, O’Malley increased K-12 education funding by over $1 billion between fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2012 — increasing funding every year except for this year. For fiscal 2012, O’Malley has proposed holding funding at the fiscal 2011 level of $5.7 billion.
With regard to pensions and retiree health, O’Malley has publicly stated that he is committed to protecting the state’s defined benefit retirement system. To that end, he proposed a series of reforms that would stabilize the pension and retiree health system — systems that currently have a combined unfunded liability of roughly $34 billion.
[Continue reading Todd Eberly’s post at The FreeStater Blog.]
Todd Eberly blogs at The FreeStaterBlog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.