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Best Budget-Buster

Pension woes

WELCOME TO BALTIMORE, the downtown billboard says, HOME TO A MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL WHO TURNED THEIR BACKS ON OUR POLICE AND FIREFIGHTERS. At issue is the pension plan, half a billion short. If the city were to fulfill its contract with police and firefighters, it would have to pump about $65 million more into the fund than budgeted this year, and more in each of the coming several years, to make up for the 2008 losses (and the previous decades’ underfunding). Instead the council changed the retirement rules, requiring police and firefighters to serve (gasp!) more than 20 years before retiring at half pay. How public safety unions finagled the now-sacrosanct 20-and-out rule is a matter for historians to debate. But if the rest of us have to work twice as long to afford our own retirement, that’s not the cops’ problem. Which is why they’re suing the city for back pension contributions.

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