Thursday, July 25, 2013

Is it STRS or is it Lynn Wachtmann? Somebody is telling a fib!

From John Curry, July 25, 2013
Teachers’ pension fund acting illegally, lawmaker alleges
By  Darrel Rowland
The Columbus Dispatch
July 25, 2013
Leaders of the State Teachers Retirement System denied yesterday that the pension fund is engaging in illegal activity, as accused by the lawmaker who heads the state body overseeing Ohio’s public retirement systems.
Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, chairman of the Ohio Retirement Study Council, said the pension fund broke Ohio law by unilaterally hitting up nearly 15,000 professors and other public higher-education employees for 1 percent of their salary to cover STRS financial obligations.
A June research memo from the Legislative Service Commission backed up Wachtmann’s stance.
The Republican from Napoleon said last week: “Despite being informed numerous times that STRS in fact does not have this authority, including through an opinion released by Attorney General Mike DeWine, STRS has instead chosen to ignore all guidance and counsel and move forward with its plan. Therefore, STRS is acting outside its legal authority and should immediately suspend such action."
But spokesman Nick Treneff said yesterday, “STRS Ohio respectfully disagrees with the recent allegations levied against the retirement system by Rep. Lynn Wachtmann and hopes to work with Rep. Wachtmann to resolve differences in the interpretation of the sections of the Ohio Revised Code."
Treneff said the teachers pension fund “is acting within the law and appropriately as fiduciaries in the interest of all STRS-Ohio participants.”
The move, approved by the fund’s board in February, took effect this month. Those who have chosen to opt out of the fund’s traditional defined-benefit plan will now contribute 11 percent of their salary — an increase of 1 percentage point — into their defined-contribution retirement accounts (similar to a 401(k)). That compares with a 9.5 percent contribution for their public employer, a drop of 1 percentage point.
About 168,000 in the system’s defined-benefit plan, which essentially provides a guaranteed retirement check, would not be affected.
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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