As the state legislature continues to debate and define the state's budget for 2012, the consideration of shifting some of the funding responsibility for teachers' pensions to each jurisdiction seems to be touted as a savings for the state.
Moving funding to the jurisdictions may be a saving for the state's budget, but it is not for the state taxpayer.
The governor is looking for ways to cut the state budget and raise taxes at the same time.
Shifting this responsibility will certainly remove it from the Maryland state budget, but will not curb the desire to raise state taxes as well.
Once all is said and done, I guess a response to constituents will be that, if pension responsibility had not been shifted, then the raising of taxes could not have been limited so they would have been higher.
However, currently, operating budgets for all counties and Baltimore City do not include this expenditure. Therefore, the jurisdictions will have to amend their budgets to take on this added burden.
If even part of the pension burden is transferred to the jurisdictions, they will be put in a bind as well — severely cut local services or raise taxes on local residents.
The governor and legislature will claim they did not raise taxes (or limited raising them) by cutting the state's pension obligation.
However, they will have forced local jurisdictions to raise taxes.
Thus, the constituent will be required to pay additional taxes to both entities: the state when taxes are raised to cover the budget shortfall, and the county/city when the pension burden is shifted to them.
Don't be fooled. In the end, a tax increase from the state plus a tax increase from the county/city equals a larger tax increase for the Maryland state taxpayer, all brought to you by the governor and legislature of the State of Maryland.