Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dave Parshall's speech to STRS board April 19, 2012

April 19, 2012
STRS Board and Mr. Nehf: 
I am David Parshall, a 44 year member of STRS and President of CORE, Concerned Ohio Retired Educators.  We are one of the stakeholders in pension reform.  CORE formed nine years ago, and I have been their only president.  I have stayed active with CORE all these years because we were, and are, the only voice for older retirees who have the lowest pensions. 
Last week we met with Mr. Nehf.  During this meeting, we reviewed with Mr. Nehf the various new Scenarios developed by STRS staff to present to the leaders of the Senate and the ORSC.  It is clear that we now have a small window of opportunity to again propose a new plan for reform.  Flawed actuarial assumptions have finally been corrected, giving the new scenarios credibility.  Any reform we propose will be at best a hard sell with the public and especially the Ohio House.  CORE stands ready to join all the other stakeholders in the fight ahead. 
Any new plan has to be seen as being fair to all members of STRS.  Of all the scenarios that we reviewed with Mr. Nehf, it was Scenario 8 that comes closest to fairness.  However, I must point out that the reduction of our COLA from 3% to 2% and the one year suspension of COLA hits our older retirees with low pensions disproportionately hard.  I am always told that STRS can't afford to treat them differently from the newer retirees many with the unearned 88% pension enhancement and much greater pensions.  This enhancement ends in 2015, but will drain money from STRS for decades.  Can we afford this?  Future retirees have time on their side; current retirees do not. There is no reason that the raise in retirement age to 60 should be pushed beyond 2015.  The average age of retirement is now 59. 
Having made these points, it's time for all of us to be political realists.  Any of our stakeholders can find fault with even Scenario 8, but we no longer have the luxury of fighting among ourselves.  There are those who want to destroy our pensions, and they have deep pockets, thanks to ALEC and others -- remember SB 5? 
I have always told CORE members that I hoped that a time would come when we can all stand together and join forces in a single directed cause.  With increased fairness to our older retirees, this time could be now!  We are in the ninth inning, with two outs and two strikes. If we take the last pitch, the game is likely over. It is time for all Stakeholders to come to together in one loud voice.  CORE stands ready to fight, and I challenge OEA/OFT, OEA-R, and ORTA to join us and support fairness.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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