Legislative Update: Pension and Retirement Benefits

From President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Elliot Hirshman

We are sharing a communication from the University System of Maryland (USM)
that provides information about pension and retirement proposals before the
General Assembly. While the proposals are numerous and complex, we feel it
is important for faculty and staff to be fully aware of the changes under
consideration. We will continue to keep you informed of the USM response.
The text of the USM memo follows.


RE: Proposed Pension Legislation in Maryland’s 2011 Legislative Session

The current session of the Maryland General Assembly is considering a number
of proposed changes to the retirement program for State employees. The USM
feels it is important to share the information that is available to us at
this time about the various bills that are being considered with our faculty
and staff. Thus, employees who wish to research the retirement bills in more
detail can consult the web links listed below.

The two most likely legislative vehicles for pension and health benefit
reform are House Bill 72/Senate Bill 87 (the Budget Financing and
Reconciliation Act of 2011 or “BRFA”) and Senate Bill 628. The BRFA sets out
one set of proposals for pension and retiree health benefits reform. Senate
Bill 628 details recommendations set forth by the Public Employees’ and
Retirees’ Benefit Sustainability Commission, which met over recent months
and made a series of findings and recommendations regarding the financial
viability of Maryland’s retiree benefits. These bills propose changes to
the retirement program that would affect all University employees.

The direct link to the BRFA on the Maryland General Assembly website is:
http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/billfile/HB0072.htm. (See pages 32 – 49).

The direct link to Senate Bill 628 is:
http://mlis.state.md.us/2011rs/billfile/sb0628.htm.

Both bills are quite lengthy, but summaries of the actions proposed to arise
from the BRFA may be found at:
http://www.dbm.maryland.gov/agencies/operbudget/Documents/2012/ProposedRetir
ementChanges.pdf
(pension benefits).

http://dbm.maryland.gov/agencies/operbudget/Documents/2012/RXChangesFactShee
t011811final.pdf
(retiree health benefits).

Summaries of the major elements of both bills can be found on the USM
website at: http://www.usmd.edu/usm/adminfinance/humanresources, at “USM-HR
Latest News.”

Finally, the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System website has a page
dedicated to all pending retirement legislation in the 2011 session:
http://www.sra.state.md.us/News/Legislation.aspx. This site is particularly useful
as the legislative session proceeds because it provides the actual text of
the relevant bills and updated information to show each bill’s progress and
any legislative action taken on it.

Next week, as the House initiates the budget decision process, the details
of pension reform will start to come into sharper focus. However, even this
will only be the first step in making any changes to the State’s retiree
benefits because the Senate will also have to take up the issue. As the
process moves forward, the USM Office of Human Resources will coordinate
closely with the Office of Government Relations to keep the USM’s
institutions updated as to major developments. We will share that
information with our faculty and staff as soon as it becomes available.

Employees who wish to contact their legislators in the Maryland General
Assembly about the proposed retirement changes can obtain contact
information for their legislators at:
http://mdelect.net/.

Should you have further questions about this important matter, please feel
free to contact Valerie Thomas at ext. 5-3142 or valerie.thomas@umbc.edu.

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