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Mossburg fails math on pensions

12:00 PM EST, February 25, 2013

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Marta Mossburg once again gets it wrong on public employee pensions, incorrectly claiming the state pension system suffered a poor rate of return ("On state pensions, 'Everyone else is doing it' is no excuse," Feb. 13). She does this by cherry picking a few numbers and willfully ignoring the most important facts.

The fact of the matter is our state pension system earned nearly 8 percent over the past 25 years, earning 20 percent in 2011 and 14 percent in 2010. Why is it important to look at long term performance vs. year-to-year? Because that is how benefits are paid out — over the long term.

Saying the pension system is broke because we could not pay 100 percent of expected benefits right now is like saying every homeowner is broke because they can't pay the entire amount of their 30 year mortgage right now. We pay our mortgages off over a period of many years. It is the same with our pension fund. We both invest contributions to gain returns over a long period and we pay out benefits in monthly increments to retirees over a period of years.

The long and short of it is this: Our state pension fund ain't broke, and hard-working public employees don't need Ms. Mossburg to fix it.

Patrick Moran, Baltimore

The writer is president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 3.

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