Wednesday, January 13, 2010

RH Jones: A thank you and an admonition for Bill and Larry

From RH Jones, January 13, 2010
Subject: Looks like the OEA is hitting all the local papers..this one was in the Lima News
Bill Leibensperger and Larry M. Lewellen:
Thanks to both of you for your wonderful DB supportive letter sent out all over the state. It was GREAT! My Life Membership has been rewarded.
Presently, retired teachers' uncompounded 3% COLA is being threatened, if the legislators go that route; what will happen to all who are now retired will affect you in your future retirement: As with us, you will not be able to keep up with inflation. Also, every 10 years or thereabouts, the legislature has supplied an ad hoc increase on our base to help us keep up. But, without new seed investment money such as provided in the way of an increased employer/employee contribution, STRS investment staff will not be able to supply, perhaps, even a reduced COLA for you. Also, investment funds need this shot in the arm to keep us with health care Rx, as well. That may not be there for you without this "shot in the arm"either. It seems that the feds are having trouble providing health care for all, so we probably cannot expect anything much from them. By the way, my Medicare has just been increased by $168 per year. This is not "chump change" for an elderly 78-year-old retired Life Member of OEA, OEA-R, NEA, NEA-R and NEOEA whose pension and benefits are far behind active teacher income and benefits. It is way over twice whhat I was paid when actively teaching: and, besides that, you will get the 35/88 retirement formula. This is not pension envy; this is the facts of life.
I wonder, if you do not support us and establish a strong precedent in doing so, how will future actives who retire 15-years down the road get support to keep up with inflation and have a decent HC/Rx?
Robert Hudson Jones, retired teacher OH STRS member

Letter: STRS good deal for Ohio taxpayers
Lima News, January 12, 2010
William W. Leibensperger, Upper Arlington, and Larry M. Lewellen, Gahanna
Defined benefit pensions such as the one provided via the State Teachers Retirement System are the best deal for Ohio taxpayers. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, defined benefit pensions can provide the same retirement income as defined contribution plans [cash accounts such as a 401(k)] at 46 percent of the cost because of economic efficiencies from pooled investment risk, higher returns and lower fees.
It’s important to understand public employees’ contributions and investment returns fund approximately three-quarters of their lifetime retirement benefit. As for the State Teachers Retirement System, educators are being asked to take responsibility for the lion’s share of the adjustment to adequately fund the pension system.
Educators will be reducing their future benefits, increasing their own contributions and working longer to pay for the needed funding. It is also important to note that public sector retirees do not receive Social Security benefits like most Americans do.
Employers are being asked for a modest increase in their contribution to share in the cost of maintaining a secure retirement plan. Employers would help maintain the solvency of a retirement plan that is an important tool in the recruitment and retention of a high-quality work force. Taxpayers benefit from a high-quality educational system, which is mandatory for the economic success of Ohio.
William W. Leibensperger, of Upper Arlington, and Larry M. Lewellen, of Gahanna, are co-chairs of Healthcare & Pension Advocates for STRS, Columbus.

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