ANNAPOLIS - Maryland state employees plan to kick off the 2011 legislative session with a rally against pension system changes.

One of the largest  government employee unions in the state, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, plans to gather in Annapolis on Wednesday, the first day of session, to plead their case to lawmakers.

Maryland's $33 billion pension system is severely underfunded, and officials studying the system are urging immediate reform to include cutting back on pension benefits. Gov. Martin O'Malley has said he plans to ask state employees to pay more into the pension system.

O'Malley also has said he won't ask counties to help pay for teacher  pensions, against the recommendations of the commission he appointed to study the  issue. Maryland is one of only three states that pays entirely for teacher pension benefits.