Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kay Fluke's extemporaneous speech to the STRS board August 16, 2012, reconstructed by RH Jones

Legislators Not Acting Fairly Regarding the House Pension Changes
Today I am 25-years in the retirement with the STRS and I have pleasantly enjoyed a 3% COLA for every one of the 25-years, and 13th checks. Many things here I have enjoyed and I appreciate that. Now I see ourselves looking at our COLA and doing some things that is perplexing to me. One thing is this: I looked at our Akron Beacon Journal in Akron 'Summer Pledge' and they are saying, 'why are we waiting 3-years to get something done setting here in the House'? And they are taking to task William G. Batchelder, who is Speaker of the House saying 'Let's move, let's do something'.
Well when I read that over, that was published in July 13, and right after I sent in a letter to the editor, which you have right in front of you. And the editorial, July 13th indicates the House Speaker promises to update pension changes, after a long delay. In 2001, the legislators, some legislators still there right now, passed the {bill} requiring the 5 retirement systems to pay a 3% annual COLA to retirees regardless of the cost of living retirement. It was put to the ORSC; and, I might add, they agreed with it. They were the ones looking at this and made pronouncements.
Right now, the new bill, proposed now, the retired teachers will not receive a COLA in a bill that provides that this may be revised in the future; which I am very skeptical about. Compare this with PERS, I went through PERS and I checked everything - their comments coming from people. What they think about the COLA: they are practically unanimous. They want to keep that 3% COLA.
I looked at SERS and they are also in there to get that 3%. Then, if we look to the police/fire, that is very interesting because they are getting a 3%, but the 3% is compounded - we are just asking for a simple. A teacher who retired with the understanding of a 3% COLA will be deceived, and will be deception, and possibly be unethical, if this HB passes in present form. They went into retirement through counseling, the idea of getting this through {the HB already on the books} bill of 3%. And now they are trying to do this thing with the COLA.
Long retired teachers will not have a form of COLA. And they will see their STRS retirement system support fall the first time in 80-years. I call your attention to the 75-year book -- the 75-year history book of the STRS -- and what impressed me was there were men teachers. I call your attention to a woman; one in particular who said: 'I am so dedicated to the STRS because you have given me a COLA so I can maintain my retirement in good standing as I move forward'.
This article that I had in the Beacon, and I will conclude right now, 'Our system is sound'. If it is sound, why do we need all these changes? And I might, also, add, it was in Yahoo mail. What caught my attention was that this calls for no COLA in 2014. What happens if we do not get a 2% in 2013? What about this 2014? I do not know, maybe a misprint? I am not sure but, anyway, it said 2014. But this is what may be a misprint. But anyway, this is what makes me very cautious to give you control of changing this for all of us because we may be 'going down the tube'. We may not be moving ahead, and this is unfortunate. I thank you for your time.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
web page counter
Vermont Teddy Bear Company