Thursday, February 21, 2013

From Mario Iacone, February 21, 2013
1.  A STRONG ADVOCATE TO ALERT RETIREES to possible upcoming changes in our Pension Benefits.  The newly adopted pension solvency law adopted by the State Legislature and signed by the governor has a provision that should be of utmost concern to retirees. It is the provision that will give the STRS Board the legal authority in the future to make major financial decisions regarding our pension system WITHOUT legislative approval.
2.  PRESERVE COLA and HEALTH CARE STABILIZATION FUNDDennis Leone believes our COLA and the Health Care Stabilization Fund will be future targets for total elimination by the STRS Board. This needs to be strongly resisted.
3.  PROTECT STRS ASSETS.  Dennis Leone believes an emergency contingency plan, which he first recommended in 2005, still needs to be developed at STRS in the event there is another significant drop in the stock market.  Leone's published concern in 2008 about the flawed revenue assumptions which the Board and staff persisted in using, has proven to be accurate. Despite being warned, STRS has been too slow to react to smaller raises being awarded to teachers statewide.
4.  TO MAINTAIN PREVIOUS STRS SPENDING REFORMS.  Dennis Leone has some suspicions about whether the spending reform and the oversight measures that were put in place during his first term on the STRS Board (2005-2009) are still in full effect. We must not see a repeat of the irresponsible spending practices that I discovered and published in 2003, which were followed by the court convictions of six Board members and the STRS Executive Director for ethics violations. It seems that near-unanimous Board votes have somehow become the current rule of thumb, with insufficient advocacy for retirees. Before any Board vote is taken, the question should always be: "How will this action impact retirees, and will it affect retirees adversely?"  
5.  STRS EMPLOYEES NEED TO PAY FOR HEALTH INSURANCEDennis Leone firmly believes that since retirees and active teachers have to pay more for their health insurance, then so should the 600 employees at STRS on a proportional basis.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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