Abell Foundation awards grant to MarylandReporter.com for pension series

Abell Foundation awards grant to MarylandReporter.com for pension series

The Abell Foundation of Baltimore has awarded a $35,000 grant to MarylandReporter.com to produce a year-long series of stories on Maryland’s pension system for teachers and public employees.

In its grant proposal, Maryland Reporter said, “the state pension system is only 65%  funded, meaning there is at least $20 billion in future liabilities to pay for pension promises already made, plus another $10 billion in promised health insurance benefits for retirees.”

Critics of Maryland’s current system, including a major bond-rating firm, actually project that the liabilities are much, much higher, mainly because the rate of return on the pension system’s investments will likely be much lower than projected. The controversial changes made to teacher and employee pensions in 2011, including higher contributions and longer waiting for benefits, may not be enough to guarantee the long-term health of the system. This could impact future funding for key state programs in health, education and public safety, the grant proposal said.

In the past three years, MarylandReporter.com has already done more stories about state pensions than any other news organization in the state. The grant will help the news website continue its coverage, and produce a package of 10 stories in the fall that tell how the problem happened and what can be done about it.

Foundation focuses on Baltimore and Maryland

Founded 50 years ago by executives of the Baltimore Sun, The Abell Foundation, is among the largest private foundations in Maryland, with assets of more than $305 million. The focus of its grant-making is Baltimore City and Maryland, with a priority on supporting efforts that enhance the quality of life in the areas of community development, education, health and human services, criminal justice and addictions, workforce development , environment, and arts and culture.

MarylandReporter.com Inc. is a three-year-old nonprofit news website dedicated to accountability and transparency on how taxpayer dollars are raised and spent. In addition to the new Abell Foundation grant, MarylandReporter.com has  continuing grants from the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Rothschild Art Foundation of Towson, corporate sponsors and over 100 individual donors. MarylandReporter.com has been designated a 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue, meaning contributions to it are tax deductible.

The website produces original content on Maryland government and politics and a daily roundup of news from over 50 different website on state government and politics. It sends out a daily newsletter of its content to 5,700 subscribers.

About The Author

Len Lazarick


Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Christopher B. Costello

    If I had $35,000 to spare, I couldn’t find a better use than MarylandReporter.com
    Everyone should consider Abell Foundation’s example

  2. Cindy Walsh

    The place to look that I have yet to hear mentioned is how all Baltimore and Maryland public pensions were shifted from safe investments in bonds to the high risk stock market just as the financial crash occurred. It appears they were used to buoy a falling market as were pensions across the country. This was a major loss and should be recovered by suing for malfeasance.

    The second piece is that the defunding occurred right at the time of one of the most profitable markets in history…albeit fueled by fraud…and so the amount of money lost to the Trust was considerably more than just the missing funding….it includes the unrealized stock gains.

    The public sector pensions are not too grand and they are not a problem. There may need to be adjustments to some areas that took too large a stance but for the most part these pensions were earned as people often negotiated these retirements in lieu of wages. I know the powers that be do not want to acknowledge that. We do not want anyone to be placed in a position of not being able to afford health care as these co-pays and deductions being added all around are blocking everyone from access to the care they need.

    Health fraud consumes the largest part of health care expenditures and certainly that is true with entitlements. We demand health care fraud over these few decades be brought back to government coffers and support these contracts that must be met.

  3. John Ludwigson

    Well deserved! I look forward to your results… Should be an eye-opener.

  4. hungrypirana


  5. Liz


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