Saturday, October 20, 2007

CORE ALERT: Your post card is needed NOW

From Dave Parshall, CORE president
Distributed at CORE meeting October 18, 2007
It is time we ALL get involved in HB 315. Mary Ellen [Angeletti] and I have been visiting representatives. They say the only messages they are getting are from the school boards. They say they need post cards, handwritten, from the educators that live in their district. Please take time to send your rep a post card. Your healthcare depends on this. Even if you are a rich retiree or active, please think about those among you who are not. CORE members in the Akron area need to send rebuttal letters to the Akron Beacon Journal.
Suggested post card message (from Mary Ellen Angeletti):
Dear Representative ______,
I am a retired teacher from your district. I support HB 315, and I hope you do, too. If not, please respond and tell me why. Thank you.
(Name, address, phone no., e-mail address, other credentials such as civic and professional groups you belong to, your website if you have one, etc.)
Suggested rebuttal for the Akron Beacon Journal letter from Linda B. Kersker, president of the Akron Board of Education:
Point-by-point rebuttal
1. "Currently, employers contribute 14 percent and employees contribute 10 percent of payroll to pay for retirement benefits."
Rebuttal: These percentages have not changed in 23 years.
2. "As members of the Akron school board, we oppose any such increase in costs to school districts."
Rebuttal: If the additional 2.5 percent increase is not phased in over the five year period as called for by HB 315, then most teachers will not be able to retire because they will have no or limited healthcare on their own. There is no retirement without healthcare. Educators will have no choice but to continue teaching far into their 60s, 70s or even 80s. School districts across the state will have an aaging staff at the top of the salary schedule with increasing healthcare needs. These teachers will have built up a lot of sick leave which they will use at the cost to the district. This will not be good for education, and will cost FAR MORE than the estimated monthly average cost of $40 per teacher. Forget buyouts. Few could afford to accept them, no matter how generous they might be. Teachers on average pay more than $1000 a year to supply their classrooms. This will have to stop. This all means a budgeting nightmare for school boards, and points out how short-sighted the Akron School Board's thinking is. It is either pay a little now, or pay much more later.
3. "Additional mandated costs, if approved, would not put more teachers in the classroom, buy textbooks or implement new programs; rather, they would go directly to STRS for retiree benefits."
Rebuttal: The increase will go only to healthcare for retirees. For years educators were promised a great retirement by the state and school boards in exchange for low salaries. There is no retirement without healthcare. Few realize that teachers don't automatically qualify for Medicare Part A. Many never paid into Social Security while teaching, and those who did, via other employment, don't get a full benefit, which means about $90 a month, at best.
4. "Instead of asking school districts, already struggling under many financial constraints, to provide additional funding, STRS should take a responsible look at its own retirement and healthcare benefits.
Rebuttal: This shows how uninformed those who oppose HB 315 are. STRS has been tightening its belt for years. Consider: we cut benefit checks by an average of nearly $3,400 a year (no thirteenth check), cut the subsidy for spouses and family members' healthcare premiums. Spouses now must pay 100% of their premiums. Retirees with the best coverage still pay 48% of their total healthcare bills. Drug and deductibles are annually raised. Hundreds of retirees' pensions are between $20,000 and $29,000 a year. STRS is prohibited by the ORC from raising its 1.9% to the healthcare stabilization fund because it has a much greater than 30 year unfunded liability.
5. "Demographics such as life expectancy and the number of years people are expected to remain in the work force have changed since the current benefit structure was put in place."
Rebuttal: This is exactly why we need a dedicated budget and stable revenue source for educators' healthcare. Teachers are already working longer and living longer. The percentages from active teachers and school boards have not changed in 23 years. Passage of this legislation avoids forcing a lot of seniors onto Medicaid, and a nightmare for the state. HB 315 is the morally right thing to do.
From CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators)
David K. Parshall, President
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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