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Teacher, State Employee Pension Reform Update!

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on April 03, 2006:

Senator Dyson Since I was first elected to the Maryland Senate in 1994, I have never received as many visits from constituents rallying for an issue they care deeply about as much as I have this year. I am referring to our dedicated teachers and state employees who have done a magnificent job of rallying me and my colleagues to “push for pensions.” In other words, they are asking us to do the right thing to improve their woeful pensions.

I recall a meeting I had five years ago with personnel experts from the Charles and St. Mary’s County school system who told me that hiring and retaining teachers was the number one problem for them. They told me of losing teachers to other states who had superior pensions. The number one issue teachers leaving the system for another state gave to the personnel experts was their pension plan. They presented their case very well and convinced me we needed to do something about it.

Since then, despite my efforts to co-sponsor several pension reform bills, nothing has been done to correct this problem because the budget committees in the House and Senate could not reach a compromise on the issue.

The breaking point for these teachers and state employees came this year when they impressively banded together to lobby for reform in the best and truest grassroots effort I’ve seen in quite some time.

During the 90-day legislative session, the General Assembly convenes every Monday at 8 p.m. rather than the usual Tuesday through Friday morning Sessions. This has enabled teachers and other state employees from St. Mary’ s, Calvert and Charles County to come to Annapolis to meet with me and discuss this key issue on numerous occasions.

I don’t just hear about the need for pension reform in Annapolis. I hear it at church dinners, fire and rescue awards banquets, farm bureau dinners and even at my local gas station. This is a real and necessary problem that must be addressed.

That is why I am co-sponsoring Senate Bill 1019 - Pension Enhancement. This bill enhances pension benefits for all members of the Teachers’ Pension System and the Employees’ Pension System, except those employed by participating governmental units (PGUs). The benefit multiplier increases from 1.4 percent to 1.8 percent for service credit retroactive to 1998. Employee and teacher contribution rate increases are phased in over three years, rising from the current rate of 2 percent to 5 percent by July 1, 2008.

I have listened -- especially this year -- to all of those worthy teachers and state employees who have pushed for pensions in 2006. That’s why I’ll push hard for this piece of legislation. It is about time we deliver something to all of those state employees and teachers who are responsible to the citizens to provide the highest levels of education, maintenance and service for the well-being of our citizens who are doing an outstanding job and deserve fair and just compensation for years of loyalty when they retire.

I believe it is a disgrace that Maryland, one of the richest state in the nation, ranks as one of the worst states when it comes to retirement benefits. Senate Bill 1019, which has already passed the Senate by a vast majority, needs to be passed by the House and signed by the governor this year.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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