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Maryland, Virginia pension funding below national average

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Maryland,Virginia,Brian Hughes

Maryland’s and Virginia’s retirement systems aren’t funded at rates that meet the waning national average, according to a new report.

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College calculated that the average pension system had funding for 75 percent of its obligations last year — a decline mitigated by governments increasingly laying off workers, freezing salaries and reducing cost-of-living adjustments.

By comparison, the Virginia Retirement System last year was funded at 69.9 percent, the report found, and Maryland’s pension system for general government had enough assets to pay 62.8 percent of what it owed; the teachers pension plan had 66.3 percent of funds on hand.

And even those estimates are favorable to states’ bottom lines since they’re based on liabilities discounted by the expected long-term yield on plan assets, roughly 8 percent.

It’s been quite a dramatic shift for area retirement systems in the past decade thanks to economic turmoil and expensive benefits plans promised to public employees.

In 2001, for example, Virginia’s retirement system was funded at 107.3 percent and Maryland’s at 102.2 percent, the Boston College report shows.

But better times could be on the horizon, analysts concluded.

“Specifically, if the stock market increases at about its historical rate over the next four years, the funded ratio for state and local plans should increase gradually to 82 percent in 2015,” they said.

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Brian Hughes

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner