Gov. Martin O'Malley has decided to shift some teacher pension costs to Maryland counties, according to Maryland Senate President Mike Miller. Miller says O'Malley has settled on an amount, but adds he'll wait for the governor to announce the details.
O'Malley is expect to submit a budget that, among other things, proposes an increase in the state's 23.5 cents per gallon gas tax. He'll also ask to move part of the responsibility for teachers' pensions to county governments. The ultimate goal of this and other measures will be to trim a $1.1 billion state deficit.
A state commission has recommended the governor raise the gas tax by 5 cents each year over the next 3 years, bringing it up to 38.5 cents per gallon by 2014. The current gas tax rate has been in place since 1992.
But asking counties already strapped with local budget deficits of their own to pay a share of the $1 billion price tag for teachers' pensions is thought by some to be one of the more divisive portions of the 2013 budget.
Right now, Maryland is one of three remaining states which shoulder most of the pension cost without local help. The General Assembly is scheduled to review and pass the final budget before the current session ends April 9.