From RH Jones, August 12, 2009
Subject: Future COLA & other taboo cuts ( please read the last sentence, especially)
At the moment, after reading the on-line STRS August News, in writing they say: ".... the board has discussed reducing the COLA and/or delaying when it begins following a member's retirement in combination with other changes to shore up the pension fund." To me, this means that they will not change the COLA for retired members, but will for those who will retire in the future. What this does not say is, in my opinion, that they may not give those of us already retired any COLAs in the future. That, everyone, I have a problem with. With hyper-inflated HC/Rx costs and over 3% inflation predictions by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, retired educators will not be able to keep up. If we live long enough, it will put us in poverty. And, in some cases, because we do not have a compounded COLA, it already has. Also, there is still the consideration of cutting out the death benefit. This would hit hard, and heartless. And, it would hit at the worst time in the life of the surviving spouse. Nothing could hurt worse.
After I read of the astounding salaries, bonuses and benefits some STRS employees receive, they cannot put the blame on the STRS pensioner members for putting the 30-year amoritizement into jeopardy. Over the past years, this has been a major part of the compounded siphoning of funds away from where it should be: in the pockets of the pensioner. This is why the STRS exists. Certainly, they have been cutting expenses since Dr. Dennis Leone (the lion) roared at them, but it still is not enough. All reasonable members want the STRS employees to be happy and productive; but, when they loose so much and then, once again, blame the loss on the recession as they did before in 1999, that makes me wonder: They did not say the boom years made billions for the STRS; they said it was their investment expertise. Personally, I do want them happy, but happy within reason. A past OSBA leader put out information that the Ohio School Boards were unhappy with the past STRS excesses allowed by the STRS board and because of it, would not support any increase in the 14% employee contribution to the STRS funding --- I can document this.
In another matter, I am concerned that the retired educators receiving over $100,000 per year are being considered for cuts. I was a teacher, not an administrator. The administrators in cities are especially under greater pressure than I, and worked longer hours. Also, in my studies for my Masters Degree in Education, I learned that the education administrators were paid much less than those in comparable businesses of the same size. The administrator pay is not excessive in Ohio. They certainly had greater responsibilities than those in industry, or in the classrooms. They earned it; They paid into it; And, they deserve it. Note: We deserve all of our Social Security, as well.
With our promised benefits, retired educators pour billions into the Ohio economy. To take some of it away, even our HC/Rx, is to take some of Ohio's economy away and we will need to go into other state care systems. Besides, our benefits were promised to us, and to take them away even with new Ohio legislation, may be a violation the grandfathering protected by Amendment #15 of the Bill of Rights. Ex post facto refers to prosecuting for actions committed when the past actions were not illegal, but made so afterwards.
This is my opinion,
RH Jones, retired teacher OH STRS member