By Len Lazarick | MarylandReporter.com
ANNAPOLIS — Maryland is in the same pension pickle as three-fifths of the other states, with its management of long-term retirement obligations causing “serious concern” to the authors of a new study by the Pew Center on the States.
“States continue to lose ground,” said David Draine, one of the authors of “The Widening Gap” that showed states had a $1.38 trillion gap between assets and pension obligations, up from $1 trillion, which the first Pew report found two years ago. In that time, Maryland’s unfunded pension liabilities have risen from $11 billion to $19 billion, and now its assets would pay only 65 percent of its promises to retired state employees, down from 78 percent in 2008.
Like 43 states facing similar problems, Maryland made substantial changes in its pension system last year, increasing contributions from employees, reducing cost-of-living increases and tightening benefits. These changes are supposed to bring the retirement system up to 80 percent funding in nine years.
But the Pew Center report says additional reform will be needed, especially since Maryland and other states continue to short-change the recommended annual contributions to the pension system.