Wednesday, August 05, 2009

RH Jones: ORTA "Double Speak"

From RH Jones, August 4, 2009

Subject: ORTA "Double Speak"

To all retired educators:

Please study the attachment. This has been circulated by ORTA to get retired educator feedback for the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) meeting where ORTA Director Ann Hanning is to represent us. You may come to the same conclusion that I did: This is a classical example of George Orwell's "double speak" that was mentioned in his book: "1984".

Especially note the box to the bottom right ("Group likely to prefer this option the most") " COLA Description 4." It says: "1.0% COLA effective 7/1/10 - New retirees 8/1/10 and later begin after 36 months of benefits." In the box it says: "Current retirees who do not want to go into a COLA blackout period. However, this is the least valuable scenario for current retirees." To me, this is the most valuable scenario for current retirees. I want to keep my 3% COLA, and I think you may too.

No one in the other public Ohio retirement systems, that I know of, are being threatened with a 3% cut in their COLAs. If the ORSC wants to cut us, they need to cut all the other systems as well.

Our STRS was the first and oldest (89-years) public retirement system in the state of Ohio (OH), and never before, even in the Great Depression, was cutting our benefits ever considered. Our STRS is a pension system. If our STRS investment and management department, and the STRS board, did not do their jobs, it is not us that should take the hit; they should! And, also, Over the years, when there were in "upswings" in the economy, was the STRS investment department directed by the Board to put funds into a "Rainy Day Fund" such as the Ohio government is now using? No. If they had done that, they could have used it also now in this "downswing". However, I do think the overall economy is beginning to improve once again. And will we be without any COLA to keep up with inflation?

The ORSC, or anyone else, should not touch the retired teacher 3% COLA, unless it is to be improved upon. Or any other benefit for that matter. The hyperinflation of our health care and prescription costs has "blacked out" our COLA enough. We do not need to be the sacrificial lamb for the poor investments and the poor spending on "STRS board and employee entitlement practices of the past few years that put us into a "shortfall" of funding. The 30-year amortization is not set in stone and should not be forced onto those of us who depend on our pension retirement system for our living. That is my opinion,

RHJones, a retired teacher STRS member pensioner

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