Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tom Curtis: Correcting some misinformation for Tom Troy

From Tom Curtis, January 5, 2009
Subject: 010510 Tom Troy, Re, Pensions Put Toledo Area Budgets Under Strain
Hello Tom Troy,
I am a retired educator (1998) and have been very actively involved in attempting to bring about reform at the STRS, beginning in February 2003. In my opinion, reform concerning the mismanagement and misspending that has helped to increase the STRS unfunded liability to where it is today, infinity.
Over the past few days, I have been reading all of the very negative articles being written across the state about the 5 pension systems. Though there is much concern to go around, but there are many favorable issues the media did not clearly represent.
In reading your article today, you stated:
Together, government units and school districts in Lucas County spent $168 million in 2008 to satisfy their pension obligations to their employees.
That's an increase of 15 percent from four years ago, when pension costs were $145.2 million.
These two statements would lead one to believe that pension costs have risen over the past four years and that is simply not the case for educators. This is a point that none of the newspapers that have run articles about pension issues has reported properly.
The educator pension contribution made by the 600+ schools in Ohio is currently at 14% and has not changed since 1984. You may check this by looking on the ORSC Website. You will find the contribution rates for the other four systems as well.
The only increases in STRS pension amounts since 1984 have been those increases made by the educators themselves. I believe the last increase educators were asked to make was in 2004. The educator contribution rose from 9-1/2% to 10%, which is the current cap. Those increases had nothing to do with what the taxpayers were forced to contribute.
Tom, I hope you will verify my information, because once you do, the second of your statements above cannot be true. If it is true that there was a 13% increase, then the increase was due to an increase in employees and not because the contributions have increased.
Don't you think the taxpayers should know both sides of this information? Considering that Ohio taxpayers have not seen an increase in cost for STRS pensions since 1984, I would think the taxpayer would be very appreciative for us holding the line for such a long period of time. Pension envy is like comparing, as they say, apples and oranges.
A reply would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your consideration.
Thomas Curtis
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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