Monday, February 15, 2010

RH Jones: Letter to the ORSC

From RH Jones, February 15, 2010

To the OH Retirement Study Council and all retired educators

Re: Why the OH STRS retiree delayed compensations should best be left only as is, or improved upon.

In two of John curry’s e-mails to me on 02-13-2010, the first one sent at 3:59 PM mentioned an analysis by Jon Margolis of the Vermont News Guy, and the second sent at 5:15 PM mentioned an article in the 02-12-2010 publication of The Colorado Statesman by Marianne Goodland. Both have statements that there is the possibility that the state may become legally liable for violation of law and could “get the state sued”.

First, Vermont’s Margolis writes: “… {State Treasurer Jeb}Spalding and the leaders of the Legislature isn’t final unless and until it becomes law. Or maybe not even then. The public employee pensions are not simply laws. They are constitutionally protected contracts with each worker, and ‘any aggrieved individual can always challenge’ any contract change in court, as Spaulding acknowledged. Especially because the Vermont-NEA has agreed to these changes, a challenge might fail. But fighting it would cost the state some of that $15 million it expects to save.

This constitutional complication is not merely theoretical; it is, for instance, one reasonKraus and the VSEA {Vermont State Education Association}are so far standing firm in opposing any change in their pension system. But it does not seem likely to scuttle the deal with teachers, which came as something of a surprise when it was announced two weeks ago.” And, … “ ‘if the Legislature chose to adopt the Commission’s injunctive relief, possibly an award of damages, and possibly a substantial attorneys fee award to the aggrieved state employees.’ ”. {Jes}

Second, Colorado’s Goodland writes: “Former Assistant {Colorado} Attorney General Stephen Smith said he believed everything in SB 1 is legal except the COLA change. ‘They’re setting themselves and you up for failure,’ he told the committee. … “As the specter of lawsuits that may be filed against the pension plan, {Greg} Smith said the law is uncertain and ‘we will be making law in the process…the appropriate response is to pass SB 1 and resolve it in court.’ That didn’t set well with {Cherri}Gerou, who said she did not like passing laws that would get the state sued.” Also, mentioned beforehand in the article was: “Several who opposed the COLA changes is SB 1 asked that an interim committee be formed to study the issue for another year. Gary Justus of said it was too early to make a $50 billion decision and that a year of study, similar to what was done for Pinnacol Assurance, was necessary.”

These above statements support that which I have been emphasizing in previous e-mails that our OH STRS retiree delayed compensations are pre-existing; and, therefore, are best to be left alone; and, can be improved upon, only. It is not only the moral thing to do; it is probably illegal to take any of them back. Some have already been taken back and should be restored.

This report is from, and in the opinion of, Robert H. Jones, an OH STRS retired teacher

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