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Hogan won’t extend pension task force

ANNAPOLIS — Republican Gov.-elect Larry Hogan said he will not extend the life of a task force created to recommend whether to set up a pension system for private-sector employees..

Hogan, who will take office on Jan. 21, made his comments on the same day he announced 31 new members of his transition team. The governor-elect declined to say what planned to do with a report that is being worked on by the task force.

The task force, created by an executive order issued by Gov. Martin J. O’Malley, is scheduled to terminate in Feb. 15 — just 24 days after Hogan takes the oath of office — unless the new governor issues an order extending its work to next December.

When asked by a reporter if he planned on issuing such an executive order, Hogan said: “No.”

During the campaign, Hogan was critical of proposals similar to those eyed by the commission.

The 14-member task force, led by former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, met Monday in Annapolis for more than three hours as it studies ways of increasing the number of private-sector employees who save for their own retirement. But the work of the group, including the fate of the as-yet-to-be generated report, were cast into uncertainty with the election of Hogan, who ran a campaign focused on reducing taxes, government spending and improving the business climate in Maryland.

Among the options on the table is a recommendation for legislation that would require small businesses with five or more employees to either offer a retirement plan or place their employees in a state-managed retirement pool similar to but separate from the state employees retirement system. Kennedy Townsend said she favors a system that provides a defined benefit and would automatically enroll employees unless they opt out.

The task force was expected to deliver a report detailing the scope of the proposed retirement savings problem by Thursday. Kennedy Townsend said the group would now attempt to finalize a draft of the interim report before Christmas and finalize and deliver it to the governor by January.