Sunday, March 11, 2012

Retiree Carol Janes writes to ORSC (Ohio Retirement Study Council) chair, Senator Keith Faber, re: pension legislation

From: Carol Janes
To: (Senator Keith Faber)
Subject: RE: Reply from Senator Keith Faber
Date: March 9, 2012
Dear Senator Faber,
Thank you so much for your reply to my letter.
Since that time I have become more informed on some poor choices made by STRS. As you know this 35 yr 88% incentive is pure craziness and has cost us a fortune. I have read letters from people learning that there are teachers now who are retiring on a FAS of 90,000...when I retired in 2002 from a rural district this was unheard of.
I know and completely understand that changes have to be made and cuts have to be made. I know that retiree's as well as active teacher's have to make sacrifices.
I would ask you for one thing. All of my life I made less than teachers in affluent areas and I am going to bet I worked harder. It is one of those things that is just not fair. And it continues on into when your committee comes up with its recommendations I am going to ask that you try to protect those of us on pensions $40,000 and under...we are struggling with health care premiums and many increased costs...our COLA is based on what we made when we it never really keeps up with inflation.
I expect to make a sacrifice...but I worked very hard for 30 yrs...was it foolish of me to stay in a rural district? Didn't those children have a right to a good education? Do I have to qualify economically for poverty to get relief from the government? That is not my wish. But I am getting close.
Carol Janes
Middlefield, OH
Subject: Reply from Senator Keith Faber
Date: March 8, 2012
From: (Senator Keith Faber)
Dear Carol,
Thank you for writing me concerning the State of Ohio pension system and the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS). I am always happy answer questions about issues or concerns folks back home may have.
Ohio’s public employees deserve the assurance that the pension they invested in during their careers will always be available to them when they retire. As sponsor of Senate Bill 3 I am working diligently to find the best solutions to these solvency issues and to safeguard a pension for every public employee that has made considerable investments toward their future.
Because pension reform is a multi-faceted subject that requires careful deliberation, the bi-partisan Ohio Retirement Study Council
(ORSC) hired an outside actuarial review firm in order evaluate the current plans purposed by the pension systems that would reform the current defined benefit structure. It is my hope that these reforms will be sufficient enough to sustain solvency for all members. However, any reformed pension system must have three key elements:
* The system must be actuarially sound.
* The benefit structure must conform to the public and taxpayers’ expectations.
* We should try to keep the promises made to those receiving benefits under the systems as well as maintaining a sense of fairness for those who have made plans based upon their pension expectations.
As you may be aware, despite prior assumptions that this proposed fix would address the plans shortcomings, the STRS board just recently announced that many of its baseline assumptions were no longer viable, leading to larger deficits. This is exactly why we asked for an independent review of their assumptions and proposed solutions. I have enclosed the STRS eUpdate newsletter on this matter for your review.
While the details and the intricacies of pension reform may be complex the bottom line is that we must ensure that the system delivers on the promises that we have made to Ohioans. I fully intent on protecting the health of all of Ohio’s retirement funds for retirees like you today and tomorrow. I thank you for your letter on public pensions in Ohio and if you should have any other issues or concerns, please let me know.
Keith Faber
Ohio Senate
12th District
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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