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

Panties for Peace -- Let's go, ladies!

From John Curry, October 20, 2007
Subject: Maybe Husted, Mandel, Jones, & other supporters of HB 151 should part with their pants!
It would be just as effective AND .... would entail far less losses for our public pension systems, wouldn't it? Jon (Husted), ..... better box up your boxers!
John (Curry)
Oct 19, 2007 Source: Jill Zimon's blog
Help Burma: send panties for Junta panty raid
From Jill Zimon, October 20, 2007
Local writer, Jeff Hess, blog author of Have Coffee Will Write, sent me this Associated Press story an hour ago:
Women in several countries have begun sending their panties to Myanmar embassies in a culturally insulting gesture of protest against the recent brutal crackdown there, a campaign supporter said Friday.
“It’s an extremely strong message in Burmese and in all Southeast Asian culture,” said Liz Hilton, who supports an activist group that launched the “Panties for Peace” drive earlier this week.
The group, Lanna Action for Burma, says the country’s superstitious generals, especially junta leader Gen. Than Shwe, also believe that contact with women’s underwear saps them of power.
To widespread international condemnation, the military in Myanmar, also known as Burma, crushed mass anti-regime demonstrations recently and continues to hunt down and imprison those who took part.
Hilton said women in Thailand, Australia, Singapore, England and other European countries have started sending or delivering their underwear to Myanmar missions following informal coordination among activist organizations and individuals.
For his local part, Hess provided me the following:
Here in the United States, send those panties to:
Union of Myanmar Embassy
2300 S Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20008
And just for fun, here’s some more contact information:
Phone: 202.332.9044, 332.9045 and 332.9049 Fax: 202.332.9046 Email:,
Tomorrow I’m going to set up a collection box on my table at the Lee Road Phoenix [an Eastside coffeehouse in Cleveland Heights] to collect panties to ship to the embassy in Washington. I’ll be there most of the day starting at 7 a.m.
I’ll box everything up and ship them off on Monday morning.
Hess confirmed to me, by email, that he is not only not kidding but that he is “as serious as a heart attack.” Let’s hope the only people who experience panic are the ones committing the atrocities in Myanmar.
Cross-posted at Wide Open (yes, I posted it there).

Friday, October 19, 2007

[News] October Board News Details Retirement Board Actions and Discussions

From STRS, October 19, 2007
This week, the State Teachers Retirement Board held its monthly meeting. Following the regularly scheduled meetings, a report titled "Board News" is posted on the STRS Ohio Web site, as well as mailed to a number of members and education organization representatives who have requested it. As a member of STRS Ohio with an e-mail address on file, you will also receive this report each month. The October report follows.
STRS OHIO PENSION FUND STATUS IMPROVES At its October meeting, the State Teachers Retirement Board received its first look at the annual actuarial valuation report of STRS Ohio's pension fund from its actuary, Buck Consultants. This report provides a "snapshot" of the actuarial position of the retirement fund as of July 1, 2007. Double-digit investment returns during the past four years have had a significant impact on both the funding period and the funded ratio for the pension fund. The funding period as of July 1, 2007, has been reduced to 26.1 years from 47.2 years; the funded ratio has increased to 83.0% from 76.1%.
In the report presented to the Retirement Board, STRS Ohio's actuarial gains and losses for fiscal year 2007 (July 1, 2006-June 30, 2007) were compiled. The actuary looks at the system's experience in several areas, including investment returns, payroll growth, salary increases, retiree mortality, and the number of retirements and other "separations" from the system, such as account withdrawals -- all of which can either reduce or increase the system's liabilities from one year to the next.
For fiscal year 2007, STRS Ohio experienced a net actuarial gain. As noted above, the major contributing factor was an investment gain of more than $5.8 billion. STRS Ohio assumes that the value of investment assets will increase 8% each year. Anything more than 8% is a gain; anything less than 8% is a loss. Because the market value of investments can literally change daily (e.g., U.S. stocks traded on the national exchanges), there is a tremendous amount of volatility in this assumption. STRS Ohio uses an approved accounting and actuarial technique called "smoothing" to spread this volatility over a four-year period when recording investment returns as part of the annual actuarial valuation process. It makes investment returns more of a "trend" rather than a "spike." With four-year smoothing, each year's gains or losses are recognized evenly over the current and subsequent three years: 25% per year. The calculation is done every year, so it just rolls forward. This results in a market-related value of investments.
When there are very large gains or losses over an extended period, "smoothed" returns can result in a market-related value of assets that differs significantly from the market value. When this occurs, which is the case for fiscal year 2007, STRS Ohio takes the additional step of putting some limits on this smoothing calculation so that the market-related value of assets is not less than 91% or more than 109% of the market value of assets. This adjustment accelerated the recognition of $1.6 billion in asset gains and a final market-related value for investments of $70.7 billion as of July 1, 2007. Even with this adjustment, STRS Ohio still has more than $6 billion of additional gains that have been "deferred" to future years.
Employer payrolls for teachers fell below the 4.5% actuarial assumption for the fourth year in a row, increasing by 2.26% in fiscal year 2007. This resulted in a $313 million actuarial loss. In addition, variations in retirement patterns from the current actuarial assumption generated a $330 million actuarial loss.
Taking all the actuarial gains and losses into consideration, the retirement fund recorded a net actuarial gain of more than $5.2 billion. Overall, the system's accrued liabilities dropped to about $14.5 billion from $19.4 billion and both the pension system's funding period and funding ratio improved.
The funding period is the number of years required to pay off the unfunded accrued liability of the system. As noted above, the funding period dropped to 26.1 years with this year's actuarial gains. The system's funded ratio -- the market-related (smoothed) value of assets compared to liabilities -- increased to 83%. This means that STRS Ohio currently has on hand 83% of the assets needed to pay all benefits accrued by STRS Ohio members to date -- even though the liabilities are not payable all at once.
As noted in other Retirement Board meetings, a public pension plan's actual experience each year is rarely identical with all actuarial assumptions. Public pension plans typically review all their actuarial assumptions every five years to determine if any adjustments are necessary; STRS Ohio was currently scheduled to conduct a five-year review in 2008. However, at the October meeting it was the consensus of the board to have a comprehensive review of four years of experience conducted in time to discuss at the board's annual planning retreat in late January to see if any adjustments need to be made.

RETIREMENT BOARD ADOPTS IRAN AND SUDAN DIVESTMENT POLICY AND PROGRAM After several months of discussion, the Retirement Board adopted a policy at its October meeting regarding divestment of investments in Iran and Sudan. This policy is consistent with the board's fiduciary duty to act solely in the best interests of the active and retired members. It establishes a voluntary process for divestment of active, direct holdings in STRS Ohio's international portfolios in certain non-U.S. publicly traded companies doing business in Iran and Sudan. Divestment will occur only when substitute investments with similar quality, return and safety can be identified. The Retirement Board had previously passed a motion stating its opposition to any legislatively mandated divestment of investments in Iran and Sudan, such as contained in Substitute House Bill 151. That bill was referred to the House Rules and Reference Committee after the directors of the five Ohio public pension plans agreed to explore developing their own policies. (For a vote in the House of Representatives to occur, the committee would have to vote to place the bill back on the House calendar.) STRS Ohio, as well as the other public systems, will report regularly to the Ohio Retirement Study Council (the legislative oversight body for Ohio's public pension systems) on their actions now that a policy has been adopted.

CONTRACTS WITH AETNA AND MEDICAL MUTUAL EXTENDED THROUGH 2009 Aetna and Medical Mutual currently administer the PPO and indemnity health care plans that more than 108,000 STRS Ohio retirees and their dependents are enrolled in as participants in STRS Ohio's Health Care Program. The current contracts with these two companies end on Dec. 31,
2008. At the October meeting, the Retirement Board voted to extend the respective contracts through Dec. 31, 2009. This will enable STRS Ohio to explore working with the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) and the School Employees Retirement System (SERS) on conducting a group purchasing project for health care plan services. Such an arrangement would allow the participating systems to leverage their collective purchasing power to stretch their respective health care dollars as much as possible.

RETIREMENT, INVESTMENT TRANSACTIONS APPROVED The Retirement Board approved the following retirements and investment transactions:
- 417 active members were approved for service retirement; 91 inactive retirements were approved.
- In September, fixed-income purchases totaled $793.7 million, domestic equity purchases totaled $3.3 billion, and real estate purchases totaled $80 million.

ONE RETIREMENT BOARD SEAT UP FOR ELECTION IN MAY 2008 In spring 2008, an election for one contributing member seat on the State Teachers Retirement Board will be held. The seat is currently held by John Lazares. The election will be for the term that begins on Sept. 1, 2008, and concludes on Aug. 31, 2012.
The process for electing an individual to this seat on the Retirement Board begins this fall. In November, election notices will be sent to all schools, providing information about obtaining petitions. This information will also be posted on the STRS Ohio Web site Petition forms can be obtained from STRS Ohio by calling toll-free 1-888-227-7877. The deadline for return of petitions is Feb. 29, 2008.
HEALTH CARE CHAMPIONS TRAINING CONTINUES With the introduction of House Bill 315 in September, interest in the health care funding initiative has increased significantly. The work of the more than 120 "Health Care Champions" who are engaged in "grassroots" activities on behalf of this bill is having a positive impact. Based on the success of the two training sessions held in Columbus and Hudson, STRS Ohio and the Health Care Advocates for STRS have scheduled three additional sessions for active and retired STRS Ohio members: Wednesday, Nov. 7, at STRS Ohio; Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Toledo Federation of Teachers; and Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the Warren County Educational Service Center. Many Health Care Champions have already made contacts with their legislators; others are sharing information about the initiative with their teaching colleagues, fellow retirees and school board members.
ORSC MEMBERS VOTE TO SUPPORT HOUSE BILL 270 At the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) meeting on Oct. 10, council members voted unanimously to support H.B. 270 with amendments. Sponsored by Rep. Michelle Schneider, the bill, as introduced, requires forfeiture of employer-paid pension benefits for retirees who return to the same employer in the same or comparable job within 180 days after retirement. ORSC staff members recommended forfeiture of the entire pension while the retiree is reemployed if a two-month waiting period is violated. They also recommended the systems (OPERS, SERS and STRS Ohio) consider offering a DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) to their members. The ORSC unanimously rejected H.B. 240, the other pending reemployment restriction bill.
MEMBER BENEFITS STAFF TO HOLD STATEWIDE HEALTH CARE MEETINGS IN NOVEMBER To help guide retired members through the health care open-enrollment process, Member Benefits' staff is holding Health Care Program Highlights for 2008 on multiple dates throughout Ohio this fall. During the meetings, associates from Member Education and Health Care Services will review 2008 health care premiums, plan coverage changes and cost-saving measures, as well as discuss the transition to STRS Ohio's new pharmacy benefits manager, Express Scripts. Attendees will be given the opportunity to ask questions. Representatives from all heath care plans and Express Scripts will participate in the meetings. Members may register for the meetings by calling the Member Services Center toll-free phone number or by using the STRS Ohio Web site.

Molly Janczyk: Notes on 10/18/07 STRS Board meeting and CORE meeting

From Molly Janczyk, October 19, 2007
Subject: STRS/CORE Board Meeting: 10/18/07
Glenna Barr will write the CORE meeting minutes.
I would like to pass on that CORE T-Shirts ($9) and Sweatshirts ($14) are now available through a company researched by Herman Fisher. An impressive sample was shown. If you would like to order, you need to pay in advance. Herman attends most meetings. Contact details have not been refined yet as he was unable to attend this meeting.
House Bill 315 is in the FIRES Comm. (Financial Institutions, Real Estate and Securities) for deliberation. A hearing has not yet been scheduled but it is hoped that Rep. Oelslanger, Sponsor, will have the opportunity to present sponsor testimony during fall session. Members of the FIRES Comm. can be found on the CORE:, OEA:, ORTA: websites.
Leone: It is easier to rehire a teacher for the same position vs. looking for new educators.
Lazares: Important figures in history cannot go back to certain jobs as it is considered: "Double dipping."
1. Nancy Boomhower: entire speech on Kathie Bracy's blog: She thanked STRS for all the changes including better discussion of issues leading some to change minds on voting. She commented that some seem well researched prior to voting and some follow fiduciary duty towards retirees. Police are gone from STRS so retirees must no longer be a threat! (Security once watched over us in case we should be a danger, we guess). Improvements needed: every year the child care is supposed to be cost neutral and every year it is not. (Damon: THIS is the year).
Seminars are far away and cost thousands of dollars
3 min. time limits fine when many speakers; when only a few-seems latitude is in order and some have been rudely stopped while others allowed to go for 5-6 min. Is there a rule or not? Are some allowed to speak longer than others?
Jeff Chapman: Chair: no changes but for myself, more lax is only few speakers. Rule in place in case there is need.
Leone: There could be a small amendment stating the chair could adjust as needed.
2. Ralph____________: opposed HB315 ; opposed benefits to laid off workers; opposed 11% bonus to some retirees (think he means 88% rule).
3. **Divestiture: CORE Pres. Dave Parshall read a statement to the STRS Board approved unanimously at the CORE meeting opposing divestiture. The statement was composed by John Curry and can be found on Kathie Bracy's blogspot:
Discussion on divestiture on the afternoon agenda and a voluntary policy was up for vote:
Leone: We voted in 6/07 to approve a voluntary divestiture policy. Then we rescinded that vote in 8/07. But we told the ORSC we are working on it. I am confused. Question: How is a voluntary plan cost -0- while a mandatory plan for divestiture costs $60,000,000?
Mitchell: Voluntary Plan has no goal and no date. We would look for alternative investments and go with them IF they provide as good or better returns. We would have the option of buying back the stock we sold. We would be on no time line and we would look at securities and substitutes and would only need to act if we found substitutions. We would maintain what we own while searching.
Mandatory Plan: We would be forced to sell listed investments and never have the option to buy them back. We would be forced to do so within a timeline and most of us feel that would not be far off so as to plan for an research replacements.
I was on the floor along with others and we felt that Divestiture Bill almost passed that day.
Leone: I spoke with Sen. Carey, Chair of Sen. Comm. and he said there is no hearing planned or anticipated on this matter. What is the rush? We don't know when or if such a bill will pass.
Mitchell: If we don't pass a voluntary plan, staff time goes up going to legislators on this matter trying to stop the bill.
Leone expressed concern on amount of divestiture with a voluntary plan. You know it will be over 50%, Steve.
Mitchell: The STRS Board didn't say don't do 50%-just not to have an amount that we have to go with and go with best investment regardless of percent of divestiture.
Lazares: Why vote for a voluntary plan when we haven't heard any senators are for it and only a few house members are? What is the hurry?
Vote: Voluntary divestiture plan passed. No votes: Leone, Lazares, Tai Hayden.
I forgot to mention at last month's meeting, Lazares and Leone asked about the policy of 'anonymous letters.' Both stated they put no credence in anonymous letters which go straight to trash if one cannot sign a name so that the accused can respond to accusations. Anyone can say anything about another with no recourse and this is a cowardly act.
Ramser felt the letter went to each Board member to do with what they chose.
Lazares and Leone felt a policy was in order and that such items were not appropriate.
This particular letter writer was 'appalled' about a CORE member's suggested provision to HB 151 and strongly critical of CORE. It was sent to each STRS Board Member unsigned. Ramser said staff should not be placed into a position of determining what happens with mail except to deliver it.
Lazares and Leone felt unsigned mail should be trashed however it was deemed approp. to do so.

Tail wagging the dog: Your STRS Board rubber-stamps AGAIN

From Dennis Leone, October 18, 2007
The Board voted 7-3 today (Leone, Lazares, Hayden voting no) to give Damon what he wanted – a voluntary divestment plan. We have no clue whether STRS will drop 1% or 100% of the firms on the naughty list. It really didn’t matter what John L and I said today. The Board majority was determined to give Damon what he wanted. I read an email I received yesterday from State Senator John Carey, the chair of the Senate Committee that would get HB 151 if (note that I said IF) it ever passed the House. He said in his email that the matter was not scheduled for discussion whatsoever in the Senate. In other words, the STRS Board today voted because they THINK they know what WOULD happen in the House and Senate. John L and I tried and tried to get the Board to wait. It simply was not in the cards.
Dennis Leone

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

John Curry: A CORE resolution opposing mandated divestment

Resolution authored by John Curry and unanimously adopted at CORE meeting October 18, 2007 and read to STRS Board by CORE President Dave Parshall
Whereas funds contributed by STRS employees and employers immediately become part of a trust fund that is no longer the property of the state; and
Whereas significant costs come with divestment, including transactions, researching replacement investments and reduced investment returns; and
Whereas STRS Board members have a fiduciary duty or legal responsibility to invest contributions for the sole benefit of the members and beneficiaries in ways that cannot be detrimental to the funded status of the plan; and
Whereas divestment departs from the accepted practice of investing pension funds on economic, not political principles; and
Whereas divestment would extend STRS further along the slope of demands for social and politically motivated and possibly financial detrimental investment restrictions; and
Whereas the activities that may trigger divestment may constitute a very small fraction of a company’s total global operation, thus harming an entity operating largely within friendly foreign nations or within the United States itself; and
Whereas all Ohio taxpayers, private corporations, citizens, and not just Ohio’s Defined Benefit participants should bear any costs of social investment mandates by the Ohio General Assembly;
Therefore, the Concerned Ohio Retired Educators resolves to:
“Support STRS pension fund investment decisions made by the STRS Board of Trustees as long as they do not involve divestiture.”
“Oppose any divestment mandate to STRS relative to companies doing business in Iran, Sudan or any other foreign country.”

Getting the word out: talking points, etc.

From Molly Janczyk, October 18, 2007
Subject: HB 315; helpful websites; Printable, revisable Talking pts.
Talking points for printing/revising/copying are below.
If you have not done so, PLEASE visit the updated CORE website for complete information on HB 315!
You will readily find all the data, forms, printable handouts, presentation and links you need for this initiative. You can also order CORE business cards for meetings on this issue.
There are individual handouts with talking points for those meeting with School Boards, or colleagues or for those writing letters to the editor.
You will find links to legislators and the ability to find your legislators.
A slide show is available on this initiative.
There are links to :
ORTA: where you will find the Health Care (HC) initiative front and center with contact links to legislators and printable labels.
STRS: where the entire presentation is available: "Addressing the Challenge Together"
The CORE website is wonderfully accessible and informative providing for members' needs with ability for complete one stop initiative action!
Most impressive.
Go to the OEA website:
to fill out their online form which conveniently go straight to your legislator as you provide your county and address.
Page down to:
"Support Rep. Oelslanger's STRS HC" and click on this heading.
Click link to take action now.
Who/How To Contact/ Talking Points:
If ONE person per group would visit the local post office and buy 30 (approp. number) postcards for meetings or circulating , it would cost: $7.80. CORE is willing to help with costs for members. If everyone at a meeting would buy 10 postcards to distribute, how far we could branch our for our goal.
If postcards are too problematic, there is a one minute message for general use that can be printed on line.
Below are compiled major points for you to print, copy and hand out. Simply mail them to your reps.
This is everyone's problem. We are all trying to save health care for young educators future retirements.
Take one minute to print this or website printable handouts and suggestions for copying and hand out all meetings.
Revise to your comfort level and pass out to all those you can asking them to simply sign and mail to their legislators.
Have a shorter message for postcards ready with post cards and legislator, school board members names and addresses. Ask your attendees to write the message on the postcard and help them find their legislator and address the post cards on site. Give to one person in your grp. for mailing.
Have copies of this or your version or any website version at all meetings, gatherings and petition all to mail.
Visit School Board members with petitions and/or copies of letters sent. Have the message on the form you present to them with signatures underneath.
Provide websites above to attendees for easy participation and/or if a computer is available, direct them to go to the OEA website during the meeting to fill in their act now form which sends directly to their legislator.
Ask every attendee to get 10 others to contact their legislators re: HB 315.
Motto: "Ten More!"
Printable Talking Points:
STRS Ohio, my retirement system, faces a funding crisis. The money for STRS Ohio Health Care Program will run out in a few years without additional funding. Many retirees and disabled teachers will not be able to afford open market health care coverage causing more Ohioans to become uninsured.
Health Care coverage in retirement is an important component of the compensation and benefits package to recruit and retain teachers. I support the health care legislative initiative proposed by STRS Ohio with the help and support of the Health Care Advocates (HCA) for STRS.
STRS Ohio membership reactions have been tallied. The majority of Ohio public educators support this proposal evidenced by online, postcard and meeting and random phone surveys. This includes educators 15 yrs or more away from retirement. A strong coalition of management, professional and retiree organizations representing Ohio's K-12 and higher education support this proposal.
Members understand they can never save enough for their health care in retirement. higher salaries will be demanded knowing they will not have HC in retirement. Projections show an average couple aged 65, living to a normal life expentancy will have costs up to $295,000 to cover supplemental Medicare and out of pocket medical expenses.
This is a member driven initiative. Active educators want to do their part to keep off the roles of the uninsured in retirement and help their current retired colleagues. The proposal asks teachers to fund retiree health care while they are working with an equal contribution by the employer. (Educators prepaying for their own health care).
This proactively involves employers in managing their workforce and accompanying payroll and health care costs. Without affordable healthcare in retirement, teachers will continue working until age 65 or until they believe they can pay for their health care costs in the open market. This translates into higher medical costs and higher wages-increased costs that will have to be paid by public schools.
There is a cost to employers with this initiative - a gradual phase - in (increase of contributions by 1/2 percent each year for 5 years when it reaches a total of 2.5% additional for the employer) generating aprox. $94 Million in the first year and about $500 Million for the health care fund at the end of 5 yrs. This will then be an annual , ongoing dedicated revenue for the STRS Health Care Stabilization Fund for future retirees. It is pay now or pay later as there will be increased costs to employers of an aging workforce.
The employee, active educators, will also pay .5% the first year and an additional .5% for each of 5 years until until their total of 2.5% is met in year 5. That will then be the ongoing contribution to health funding for their future retirements with STRS.
This translates to an additional contribution of $8 (pretax: assuming employer has employer pickup program for STRS Ohio contributions) a check in year one for the teacher earning $40,000. By the end of 5 years, when the full 2.5% is deducted, the teacher will be paying approx. $40 more per ck based on NO change in salary and 26 pays. Of course, they are expected increases and raises far overcompensating for this increased contribution.
Contributions are currently limited by law:
10% employee; 14% employer
The employer contribution has not been raised for approx. 2 decades to help with inflation and soaring crisis of health care costs.
Stay on point: items such as:
88% rule, poor educators, STRS is doing well and has plenty of money, etc. do not weigh in. This is NOT an economic issue; The pension system cannot be used for health care and health care cannot survive due to the soaring costs creating a crisis for STRS retirees is the issue.
STRS IS acting responsibly and prudently by directing its efforts working to get its unfunded liability and the 85 % ration within the ORSC guidelines. Therefore, all pension fund money is directed to these issues. STRS is in a good position for this proposal having to only ask for 2.5% addt'l contributions for employer and employee.
Use all your credentials when signing letters and handouts. This translates to numbers in their minds-not just you but others in your grp. (votes). Also, Educators are 400,000+ strong with families and friends making voting potential of up to a million or more.
Sign your name, address, email address, and phone or many letters will be thrown out, esp. letters to editor (follow the editorial guidelines: for ex. Dispatch: up to 200 words allowed for an editorial). [Also add any credentials you have, such as member of civic boards, professional organizations such as CORE, etc.]
IF A LEGISLATOR OR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER states they are against the initiative, ask why? Ask what they propose as an alternative solution for this problem. Provide addt'l info and sources for them.
Thank the legislator or School Board member, etc. If they support this initiative, ask they take a leadership role.
Do relay the outcome to:
Health Care Champions: go to their website and (CORE) has a feedback link. STRS Ohio Gov. Relations will also take feedback: 227-2983. Terri Bierdeman will receive feedback on fax number: 614-744-3341
We are ALL HC Champions! Register at STRS (website or phone) for training and a tool kit :
Nov. 7: Cols. STRS
Nov. 8: Toledo
Nov. 13: Lebanon

Nancy Boomhower's speech to the STRS Board, October 18, 2007

Good afternoon. My name is Nancy Boomhower and I am a retired first grade teacher from Medina County. At this time, I work part time as a GED instructor at the Medina County Jail.

The sermon at church on Sunday was about taking time to say thank you for good things done for you. I decided that there were thank yous due to you, so I want to thank you today for all of the positive changes that have taken place here at STRS. The Board’s taking the time to question and discuss items on the agenda rather than the blanket rubber stamping that went on before is a positive. I have seen that several times, after a discussion, board members have changed their minds due to additional information gained in the discussion. This deserves a thank you.

Some Board members seem to have spent a lot of time researching issues and are well informed so they are able to make wise decisions when it comes time to vote on an issue. This deserves a thank you and is a positive change from the past.

Some Board members use fiduciary responsibility as a guide when casting a vote. This deserves a thank you.

When I first started attending these meetings, there were policemen and security guards here and outside the building. The fact that they are no longer here tells me that we retirees are no longer felt to be a threat. This is a positive and deserves a thank you, also.

Lest you get complacent, please be aware that there are many areas that need improving on yet.

One of these is the Child Care Center. For several years, it has been stated that it will operate cost neutral the next year, but when that year rolls around, it is the same story. Next year never seems to come. This does not make for a positive nor trusting feeling.

Some Board members choose to attend seminars that are in faraway places and cost thousands of dollars. This does not deserve a thank you.

A last item that I would like to bring up for clarification is the three minute time limit for public speaking. I realize that this was started when we had many speakers. However, I have attended meetings when speakers were cut off at three minutes, and sometimes quite rudely; and then I have observed other speakers who spoke for five or six minutes, at least. My question is: Is the three minute limit still in effect now that we have fewer speakers, and is the limit for all speakers? After a couple of conversations today, I found out that the Board has decided to relax the rule when there are a few speakers. I feel that this information should be made available to all individuals.

In summation, I want to say thank you for all of the positive things that have occurred. Please continue to work on the areas that need improvement.

RH Jones: The ethics of supporting HB 315

From RH Jones, October 18, 2007
To all:
Ethical to support HB 315?
One might ask: Is it ethical for both professionally active & retired Ohio public school educators to campaign for the passage of a HB315 when it provides health care (HC) for retired educators? For the following reasons, I think it is ethical:
First, unlike charter schools, children are not commodities to be exploited for profit. Professionally trained, at their own expense, educators supply a commodity: their expertise to train all the children, of all the people, for their futures, and the future of Ohio. Professional educator retirement is not retirement without school districts supplying them with proper funding for their HC. The most competent educators, therefore, are attracted to school systems in states that do offer a reasonably secure retirement HC funding. Our Ohio public school children are shortchanged on teacher quality without a retired educator HC set in law.
Secondly, the business climate is not attractive to communities that do not have quality schools staffed by quality educators attracted, in part, by retirement HC.
Thirdly, in today’s times, jobs are not being created & available to the uneducated. Educators do the educating and educator retiree HC is needed to maintain staffing.
Thirdly, in a time of increased assaults, and shootings of educators, as any other profession (Police/Fire, etc.) that incurs violence, needs retirement HC to provide for their physical & mental rehabilitation. (Note: my first year of teaching was done at Akron Kenmore Jr. High, way before Innis Jr. High opened, I was hired to replace a teacher who had a “mental breakdown” - at term used at that time. Would it be ethical to not provide that teacher with retiree HC?)
Fourth: To be ethical is one of the most high of the human condition. All of us fail; even an NASA astronaut recently failed and had a “mental breakdown”. Educators fail also; the news media pounces on those stories rather quickly. Therefore, being a public professional is usually more newsworthy than the general citizen. Especially when being involved with educating children is not without its risk of frivolous prosecution. Retired educator HC is therefore a need. An astute voter would not miss this fact; they would vote for those politicians that support retired educator HC.
Finally, there are a number of other reasons that one can innumerate that would give a strong case for the passage of HB315. To answer the question: Is it ethical for an educator, even one who may in retirement, it is beyond a doubt that working hard to pass this most need legislation (HB315) is definitely ethical and it is the moral thing to do. Most professional educators have a Lifetime Certificate to teach. We are, hence, teachers until death. For educators to support any issue that benefits all of the citizenry, such as HB315, is most definitely ethical for educators, and a responsibility of their position in a civilized society. To do otherwise would be unethical & just plain wrong.
RHJones, A STRS retired member

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kudos to CORE from Ross County RTA

Don Gatchell to John Curry, October 17, 2007
Subject: Re: ***CORE ALERT*** October 17, 2007
Our Ross County RTA newsletter will go out to our 217 members in early November. It will list the contact info for Rep. Clyde Evans, one of the co-sponsors of HB#315. Members will be encouraged to write or e-mail Rep. Evans and ask him to continue to promote this legislation as a priority for retired teachers in southern Ohio where his 87th House District is.
Our RTA thanks CORE for being a vocal "watchdog" for retired teachers and for supporting the efforts of local STRS board member Dr. Dennis Leone.
Don Gatchell
Ross County Retired Teachers Association

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

RH Jones: Mayors and mayoral candidates & HB315

From RH Jones, October 15, 2007
To all:
Mayors and mayoral candidates & HB315
Please include mayors & mayoral candidates in your communication concerning the STRS HC issue (HB 315). An extremely reliable source has informed me that Akron’s Mayor Don Plusquellic (D) has taken a negative position in support HB315. My source claims that Plusquellic said he is tired of supporting public school levies. Consequently, he needs to hear from teachers – who are also as seniors – about our voting power. I wonder, perhaps other shortsighted & ill informed Ohio (OH) mayors of both political parties are taking negative stands against HB315 as well? Therefore, they need our positive HB315 input. OH’s prosperity is depending on us. Evidently, we cannot depend on some of them.
Active & retired teachers are taxpayers as well as Plusquellic. We vote too. We also are tired of school levies, but realize that dollar inflation and public tax financing private charter schools has taken its negative drain on public school funding. And without increased federal and state support, schools must go back to all of us taxpayers on the local level.
Retired teacher health care (HC) has gone up much faster than the rate of inflation. Providing HC to retired educators is good for business. Does not Plusquellic realize this? Akron, as well as all other OH cities, townships and villages will suffer loss to the business tax base as they continue to leave OH. All sophisticated research has concluded that: Good schools equal good business. Its as simple as 2+2=4. I learned that in an excellent Akron Public Grade School!
This is my thinking,
RHJones, a proud member of CORE
Click image to enlarge.
Click image to enlarge

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ryan Holderman and Jim Kimmel re: Nancy Hamant's letter

Jim Kimmel to Ryan Holderman, October 14, 2007
Subject: Re: Bravo, Nancy!
I agree, Ryan. Playing with averages does not negate the fact that many retirees who have been retired a while are much lower. If Judy and I had had to put 2 kids thru college and support them for 20 years we would be different financially than we are not all that good as it is!). Also cops (another high stress job) retire earlier than many jobs. Will the legislators question THEM? I doubt it! As we have sadly once again learned recently teachers get SHOT too! How many legislators or bureaucrats have to worry about that? And by the way in the Armed Forces of the US you can retire after 20 years. Some of these go into teaching for a second career in their 40's. At least they have had combat training... And if you are a bureaucrat of some kind or an STRS staff member you can retire after 30 years as well. The legislators themselves have a pretty nifty retirement system.
Do we want to tell them what they want to hear so they can use it against us by saying that we did not make convincing points or get down to brass tacks? Do they want us not to make the relevant and convincing points so that the bill will more likely fail? It really makes me angry when they say we have such a great retirement system yet some of these same rascals have tried to undermine it so that the bankers and brokers can have their pound of OUR flesh! And by the way, it has been about 20 years since the School Boards have had an increase in their STRS contribution. Everything else schools have purchased in the last 20 years has gone up and they paid it without "whining" so why are they "whining" now? They will of course use this as an argument to refuse raises for their teachers anyway, just as they do every year about the cost of everything from chalk to gasoline. It is time to get real. Of course many Republican legislators do not want postcards about the plight of retirees -- they don't want to pass it anyway! Is there a legislator named Marie Antoinette in the General Assembly? Too many are saying "Let them eat cake" -- when bread (and medicine) is hard to come by.
Jim Kimmel
Ryan Holderman to Nancy Hamant, October 13, 2007
Subject: Bravo, Nancy!
Dear Nancy:
To borrow a phrase from Al Gore, it is "an inconvenient truth" that there are retirees trying to live on less than $30,000 a year. When the legislators are willing to do the same, then they can "get ignited" over "poor educator" rhetoric and NOT until!
Legislators need to "get ignited" over the dilemma faced by all Ohio citizens who, though on fixed incomes, face ever rising costs for utilities, medical expenses, taxes, heating expenses, gasoline and food!
The myth that "the average retiree has a pension of $35,000 and assets and retires younger than other occupations" is only fueled by our silence.
Thank you, Nancy, for bringing this information to folks' attention.
Sincerely, Ryan

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