Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Representative Wachtmann responds to Tom Curtis' letter

From Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, January 13, 2010
Subject: RE: 010610 Rep Lynn Wachtmann, Re State Pension Issues
Thank you for your email. Yes, my comments were accurately reported and yes, they are true.
How many businesses are you aware of that have the generous retirement, heath care and can retire after 30 years, potentially at age 48? Personally, I am aware of none. I simply do not believe taxpayers should be expected to pay higher property taxes to bail out either STRS or any of the other four systems. Most of the private sector has been forced to take pay freezes or cuts in addition to the changes in retirement, not to mention the level of unemployment within the private sector. Expecting public employees to come closer in line with the private sector to add solvency to our systems is very reasonable. All of us in the public sector should be grateful for the generosity of the taxpayers, who are, unmistakably, mostly employed by the private sector. I could go on and on about how our public pension systems were designed when people lived to be only into the late sixties while now, people are living much longer. In fact, the smallest system, SERS, has over 100 people living over the age of 100! The fact is, clearly, if the systems are going to continue to exist, changes need to be made.
Unlike Washington, Ohio cannot and must not pass the bill along to future generations, according to the state’s Constitution. The changes that need to be made to the five systems vary but are all modest when one looks at the whole picture. I do understand change is difficult for most people; however, in the end, we need to ensure the solvency of the systems for future generations. The longer the legislature puts off these needed changes, the more difficult the options become.
All of this being said, I want to be clear that my number one concern is the solvency of the systems and ensuring it is there for the future. I understand some may believe that my comments indicate I do not believe they deserve these benefits. Please allow me to further expound that I have no animosity to any of the public sector employees. On the contrary, I want to make sure the benefits upon which they are relying are secure! Everyone works hard and when one retires, one should be able to rely on the promises made earlier.
I appreciate the work you do and I honestly do admire the responsibilities you have in your profession. I also appreciate you taking the time and initiative to contact me.
[Rep. Wachtmann sent a nearly identical letter John Curry today.]
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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