Tuesday, January 26, 2010

RH Jones: No COLA cuts for retired educators

From RH Jones, January 25, 2010
Subject: Absolutely no COLA cuts for retired educators
Re: CORE’s John Curry email: “Is it Bill Leibensperger time with a new game show called ‘Lets Make a Deal’”
To all members of the ORSC and Ohio’s educators:
As reported to me by an email from John Curry, I am deeply concerned with OEA’s VP Report of a meeting with the Chancellor of the Board of Regents on 01-14-2010. Bill Leibensperger presented HPA with a “Straw Proposal”: STRS Pension Benefit Changes. Note: the proposal that “no tiering” (?) of COLA benefit is not clearly articulated in the report. Evidentially, it applies to active teachers. Also, note: Most surely everyone evolved with the ORSC understands that Leibensperger represents active teachers. Retired educators have their separate associations and unions representing them. However, since OEA is affiliated with OEA-R, as a separate association their inclusion is debatable.
Concerning currently retired educators, I believe it was HB 157 that promised a “fixed 3% COLA” and brought in into effect in 2002. This still covers all retired educators. However, there is some question as to the constitutionality of cutting this promised fixed differed compensation. If reduced, or taken away by the Ohio Legislature, it may, and most probably would violate the U.S. Constitution’s “Bill of Rights”. Note: the U.S. Constitution trumps any State Constitution.
Most distressing to this retired teacher is that the Leibensperger report recommends, beginning July1, 2011, current retire educators receive only a 2% COLA. Thank goodness it is just a proposal. If the ORSC acts on this, current retiree educators will be financially devastated even more than they are now. Our promised health care/prescription has already been diminished, especially the spousal coverage; the discretionary variable supplemental deferred compensation (13th check), and an Ad Hoc increase to the retiree base, have not been issued in the past 10-years, or so; therefore, there are no “grounds to stand on” in cutting any promised currently retired deferred compensations.
The 3% COLA included in the HB 317 effectively eliminated the previous COLA bank that, previous to HB 317, retired teachers formally possessed; and, in 1999, as a last resort for keeping up retired educators with inflation, compassionate OH Legislators granted an Ad Hoc raise in the base to bring all of the retirees to a 2% base calculation (It is interesting to note: OPERS’ base at that time was increased by 2.2%).
Due to my above reasoning just cited, a reasonable and sensible person could conclude that these promised compensations to currently retired educators should definitely remain in effect.
Respectfully submitted,
Robert H. Jones, retired teacher OH STRS stakeholder member
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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