Tuesday, February 02, 2010

RH Jones: A letter to STRS retired educator board reps

From RH Jones, February 2, 2010
Subject: An open e-mail to OH STRS retired educator board reps
To both OH STRS retired reps and all retired educators:
Re: OH STRS board retiree representatives are honor bound to represent all of us retired educators!
The short-term economic needs of current retired educators are paramount, especially for those of us who have been retired over 20-years. Please remember that we are amortized. Our needs are to end cuts (perhaps illegal) to our deferred compensation, HC/Rx, flat 3% COLA, death payments, our any other hidden desires of STRS board members may have to reduce current retiree economic status. We have already become the victims of diminished economic returns such as the take away out of the general fund of the 4% STRS HC/Rx financing down to only1%. Taking away spousal and dependent HC/Rx was a particularly insensitive and inappropriate -- Retired reps are the guardians of retired educators, and must do so enthusiastically.
Concerning the long-term financial health of the STRS. I am confident that: With the modest increased infusion of employer/employee contributions, passed in the Ohio legislature by honorable and distinguished lawmakers, partnered with the compassion of both retired and active STRS board members; and, with all the STRS managers and investment staff, who know their jobs, will grow forward the new “seed” funds. For if this legislation is not passed, causing the STRS not being able to respond to their future economic needs, please remember that we are amortized. Without passage, what incentive would educators have to pay into a retirement system, if they know cuts will be made in their deferred compensations?
However, with the infusion of the new legislated funding, certainly the self-motivation is there for STRS associates to make sure that the STRS is healthy, far into the future, coupled with that of the STRS retired educator stakeholders, their economic status in the OPERS retirement deferred compensation, 3% COLA and HC/Rx will, therefore, be maintained now and into their retirement. For without the STRS employee payments into OPERS, OPERS will also be severely financially impacted, as well as the STRS. Associates now have the use of the new and faster computer equipment. They most certainly enjoy a great work environment – in the form of the outstanding building and an attached parking garage offered free to them. Because of all the factors above, one can see that investment production is, therefore, achievable.
I, too, understand that their has been an increase in the longevity of retired educators, especially female retirees, but that should not be a problem due to the fact that present educators, both female and male, are today earning far more compensation for their professional vocation than we. Because of it, they are electing on their own to work past the traditional 30-year retirement goal. Employed, today, they have better heath health care, including eye/dental/hearing and structured preventative health measures (such as no-cost admission to exercise, gymnasium/ swimming clinics.). Actives, at the moment, have much to lose by retiring. Also, currently working here in Ohio, in more and more new and air-conditioned buildings, along with legislated lower class sizes, and the use of teaching assistants, serves to attract professional educators to extend their work years.
It is not my intention to pit the retired educator with those educators (dialectics) who are still actively employed, but please remember that we are amortized. Currently, actives outnumber retired reps on the Board and for that reason, if no other, retired reps need to see to it (as did our Dr. Dennis Leone who was a great retired rep) not only to keep our retiree-deferred compensations, but also to improve on them.
This is my opinion and a report of the facts in maintaining and improving retired educators’ retirement system. It is not meant be pension envy, or to criticize anyone, but to teach.
Robert H. Jones, retired teacher OH STRS member
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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