Thursday, September 23, 2010

OSBA friends of active and retired educators?

From John Curry, September 23, 2010


Here is what the OSBA has to say about STRS and your retirement benefits in their legislative platform. With education friends like this, who needs enemies?

5. STRS/SERS RETIREMENT SYSTEMS — Opposes future benefit enhancements advocated by State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) and the School Employees Retirement System (SERS) unless the enhancement is accompanied with a reduction in the 14% employer’s share and repeal of the SERS surcharge. Ohio school employee retirement systems offer excellent benefits to their members and contribute to attracting and retaining employees. The association supports the school employee retirement systems and has not opposed benefit enhancements in the past. However, when determining pension benefits and eligibility STRS/SERS shall consider current demographic realities such as life expectancy and the number of years people remain in the workforce. The association supports representation of school boards of education on the STRS Board and SERS Board. The association opposes any attempt to increase the employer’s share to cover increases in costs.

RH Jones re: An OH STRS payback of HC/Rx promises?

From RH Jones, September 22, 2010

To all:

In view of an Alaska Supreme court ruling, 06/13/2003, that medical benefits for retired educators and other public employees cannot be cut, leaves me wondering if the OH STRS could be held accountable and liable in court for having already cut retired member HC/Rx benefits? And could STRS possibly have to pay back to the retired members all of their increased costs since the time of the said cut?

The Anchorage superior court judge ruled that the Department of Retired Benefits (DRB) violated the constitutional rights of public retirees by cutting medical benefits. The plaintiffs were NEA-Alaska, NEA-Alaska/Retired, along with several individual plaintiffs. These plaintiffs were granted authority to represent PERS and TRS retirees.

The judge rejected DRB’s arguments and ruled that retiree medical benefits were protected rights, just like the monthly pension check.

This is a brief synopsis of an e-mail that I received from the NEA, 08/19/2003. I assume that the above ruling should be of common knowledge to officials of OH STRS and those of the OPERS, SERS, Police/fire, Highway patrol, NEA/AFT, OEA, OEA-R, NEOEA, ORTA and the locally independent teacher and administrator associations.

The correct and right thing for the OH STRS to do is just to restore at once the retired educator HR/Rx package to the status of the original promise to avoid the possibility of a future complex payback and unknown punitive damages.

Respectfully submitted by
RHJones, a retired OH STRS teacher member

Monday, September 20, 2010

Looks like we got out-invested by South Dakota!

From John Curry, September 20, 2010

States' pension funds rebound in fiscal 2010


Columbus Dispatch, September 19, 2010

A year after suffering record investment losses, many of the country’s largest public pension plans are reporting double-digit percentage gains for the budget year that ended June 30.

Although the improved returns in fiscal 2010 did not wipe out the damage that funds suffered in the previous two years, the figures confirm how the financial industry has been stabilized and liquidity has increased since the Wall Street crisis battered state pension plans.

A review by Stateline of 20 public employee pension plans in Ohio and 18 other states shows preliminary returns ranging from 10.8 percent, for the Nevada Public Employee Retirement System, to 18.7 percent, for the South Dakota Retirement System. By comparison, the Ohio State Teachers Retirement System had a 13.5 percent return in fiscal 2010, a big reversal from a 21.7 percent decline in 2009.

Meanwhile, Wilshire Associates, a California-based investment adviser, reports a 13.1 percent median return among public plans with more than $1 billion in assets for fiscal 2010, compared with an 18.8 percent loss in fiscal 2009. Most state public pension systems assume an annual yield of about 8 percent.

Public pension system managers say they are encouraged by the increases in the market value of their funds. But they are hardly sanguine; nationally, the unemployment rate is still high at 9.6 percent, home sales are declining and economic growth overall has slowed. The stock market has struggled this summer, and many state funds are seeing modest losses for the past few months.

“Long-term return numbers are still achievable but the intermediate future may be difficult,” said Craig Slaughter, executive director of the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement System, which earned 16 percent on its investments in fiscal 2010. “The economy still needs a few years to recover from the global recession.”

West Virginia’s experience puts the fiscal 2010 gains in perspective. Losses in its retirement system holdings in fiscal 2008 and 2009 required the legislature to contribute $211 million to shore up the system. The funding ratio, or the proportion of assets to liabilities, of West Virginia’s state employee retirement fund is 65.9 percent, while its teacher retirement fund is 41.3 percent. Most experts prefer an 80 percent ratio.

Public employee retirement benefits are financed from contributions from employees and state agencies and returns on investment holdings.

Major public plans in at least 21 other states were below the 80 percent benchmark at the end of 2008, according to an analysis by the Pew Center on the States, the parent organization of The report concluded that the underfunding of public pension plans began before the recession, but was worsened by the downturn

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