I was not surprised to see Gov. Martin O'Malley fail to honor the state obligation to provide annual funding to the State Pension Plan to restore it to fiscal stability ("Franchot, Kopp fight transfer of pension money," Feb. 26). It is pretty consistent behavior.
What has amazed me is that teachers associations, including the state organization, MSTA, have lined up in support of this fiscally destructive move, despite the impact on the future welfare of their membership. The excuse given is that, without the pension plan dollars, education funding would have to be cut at the state level, impacting, for one thing, teacher salaries. Surely leadership in Annapolis does not expect any of us to believe that without the cuts to the state contribution to the pension plan, that teacher salaries — which are set locally — will be impacted.
Nor do we believe for one minute that Governor O'Malley will cut spending on education in this political environment. His agenda is to avoid budget cuts to other programs wherein his political support lies, and to avoid focus on the $238 million tax revenue shortfall in Maryland due to the cost of his social programs, the loss of federal spending in the state, and, above all, the ongoing loss of business and high income/retiree tax base due to the tax rates and poor business environment he has created in Maryland. He wants to mask all of these developments rather than have them be issues in his future political ambitions. Having already depleted the transportation find and other revenue savings, his remaining option is our pension plan funding.
This is a ploy to allow his political allies in MSTA and local teachers associations to have an excuse for why they are backing this move rather than standing up for the future financial welfare of the people who elected them as representatives. Leadership in all state education associations should be standing strongly against the pension fund raid on behalf of their membership and reminding Mr. O'Malley and state legislators that they better not cut education spending either.
What we seem to have instead is a group of high level association leaders with an attachment to Mr. O'Malley who are placing their relationships with him, and perhaps the opportunity to ride his political coattails, over their responsibility to stand up for the future welfare of their membership who must rely on this pension system for years to come. May the members remember when it is time for new officers.
Ron Boone, Timonium
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