Friday, June 16, 2017

Suzanne Laird's speech to STRS Board June 16, 2017

Note: This was Suzanne's first visit ever to an STRS Board meeting; she wrote her speech on the spur of the moment shortly before the Public Speaks portion of the afternoon session, with just moments to spare. No doubt she spoke for many of the newer retirees in situations similar to hers. Kudos to Suzanne for having the courage to speak out! Let's hope we hear more from her in the future! KB
Good afternoon, My name is Suzanne Laird, I retired in 2013 with 30 years experience. The reason I retired with “only” 30 years is because I was promised  a cost of living increase each year after 2014. It was on this advice, your advice, that I made my decision. Now, that promise has been rescinded, with no recourse for me and all others placed in that situation.
This morning, I heard the discussion on healthcare. I'm sorry the gentleman who presented did not stick around, but I'm glad several board members asked for examples of how these proposed changes might affect teachers. [Later, we found that Gary Russell, the presenter, was still in the room.] Please allow me to share my experience:
When I was making my decision to enter this profession of teaching, part of that decision was based upon receiving decent healthcare in my retirement years. As a Non-Medicare retiree, my portion of the premium, deducted from my STRS pension check, is $417.20 each month. I have my pay stub with me here today as proof. To offset that cost, I must substitute teach 5-6 days each month. I will not reach the age of Medicare eligibility for 6 more years. Without the COLA and with the looming threat of rising premiums (never mind co-pays and deductibles) I will be forced to continue to substitute at least 10 or more days out of the 20-25 work days each month.
As I walked away from the microphone, I sang “Happy Retirement to me” to the tune of “Happy Birthday."
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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