Saturday, October 10, 2009

STRS FLASHBACK - 5 Years Ago - Just how much more can one become appalled?

From John Curry, October 10, 2009
As I made my morning coffee I decided to check out an old STRS article disk and, to my surprise, I found an STRS article from exactly 5 years ago. I'm glad I did!
Some things have changed....some haven't. I know one that has significantly changed.... the health care monthly insurance premium that STRS wants to insure my spouse and myself. As the article states, back then (2004) STRS wanted $562 per month for an 80/20 PPO to insure my wife and myself. That figure was after STRS "trashed spouses," which means that they dropped paying any subsidy toward the spousal insurance premium. Today, that same 80/20 PPO through STRS is $976 (of course with some higher deductibles)! Let's see, that's a $414 increase in just 5 short years! Put another way, that's a 74% increase on top of an already ungodly high insurance premium. A reality check with a friend, who also retired from a public service job with Auglaize County government, revealed that he still pays only an $80 per month premium for an 80/20 PPO under OPERS to cover himself and his spouse....the same that he did back in 2004! My, my...OPERS must be doing something right!! get the drift, don't you? I am still "appalled" after 5 years and, after you read this flashback, I think you will be appalled also.
P.S. I wonder what STRS has spent for "tuition reimbursements" since 2004? I wonder if it is still "double" what Ohio's four other pension systems have spent combined from 1999 to 2004? That would be a good question for an investigative reporter, wouldn't it? finish my coffee.
Retirees appalled by pension fund perks
Workers enjoy tuition, child-care benefits
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Sunday, October 10, 2004
Ted Wendling
Plain Dealer Bureau
Columbus -- The State Teachers Retirement System has shelled out more than $2 million in tuition reimbursements to its employees since 1999, double what Ohio's four other pension systems have spent combined.
While STRS' commitment to continuing education may mean the 634-employee retirement system has the best-educated pension fund work force in the state, retired Chillicothe schools Superintendent Dennis Leone is convinced the disparity is further evidence that STRS administrators "don't have a lick of sense."
Noting that STRS employees also have a 37½-hour workweek and receive up to $5,000 a year for each child they adopt, Leone said the educational stipends "seem to fit with the other examples of employee perks that STRS has generously provided to its employees using pension money."
"I don't think that's right, nor do hordes of retirees in this state," he said.
STRS Executive Director Damon Asbury responded that he and the board have gone to great lengths to withdraw or reduce some of the employee benefits that have left retirees steaming as they have watched their healthcare costs soar. But he defended the tuition reimbursement policy, noting that employees must take courses to improve or acquire skills necessary to perform their jobs.
"If you look at most school districts, there is reinforcement and recognition for continuing education and training, and I think our organization reflects the same need," Asbury said.
"The business that we're in, while it's not education, requires a high level of education and ongoing training," Asbury said.
Ohio's other large pension system, the Public Employees Retirement System, has spent about $812,000 since 1999 on tuition reimbursements. Two smaller pension funds - the State Employees Retirement System and the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund - have spent a combined total of about $231,000. The State Highway Patrol Retirement System doesn't pay tuition reimbursement.
Critics of the tuition policy and other employee benefits are particularly incensed by the perks because they come at a time when retirees' healthcare premiums have soared and their spousal coverage has disappeared. While skyrocketing healthcare costs are a national trend by no means limited to Ohio's pension funds, STRS has been targeted for criticism by many retirees because of past spending practices.
STRS has been under fire since summer 2003, when The Plain Dealer reported that the fund had paid out $14 million in employee bonuses while it was losing $12.3 billion - 21 percent of its investment assets.
Since then, a large number of retired teachers, calling themselves Concerned Ohio Retired Educators and attired in red, black and white "CORE" T-shirts, have attended the board's monthly meetings in Columbus to criticize employee perks and complain about their own healthcare bills.
John Curry, 56, a retired elementary school teacher from Wapakoneta, took a job as a security officer last year after STRS informed him that healthcare coverage for him and his wife was jumping from $344 to $562 a month.
Curry said the couple now pays $112 a month for the same coverage that, under the STRS plan, would cost them $676 next year.
"I went back to work so that I could afford healthcare," he said. "I'm lucky enough to be able to go back to work, but I feel sorry for my brothers and sisters in the teaching profession who might not be able to do so."
Asbury agrees that healthcare and good stewardship of the pension fund's $54.2 billion investment portfolio are "the major issues" for STRS. But he said it was unfair for older retirees to compare their healthcare costs to those of STRS' younger, and presumably healthier, work force.
Asbury disputed the contentions of some CORE members that STRS employees have seen no increase in their healthcare premiums in recent years.
"Our associates have stepped up and increased their premium costs," he said. "They went from paying essentially nothing to almost 20 percent of the premium."
Leone and Tom Curtis, a retired industrial technology teacher from Canton, also chafe at other benefits STRS provides to employees. They include the 37½-hour work week, the adoption stipend and subsidized child care.
Before retirees raised a ruckus, STRS paid about $500,000 a year to defray employees' childcare costs. Administrators have whittled that benefit to about $190,000, which the 56 employees who use the on-site childcare facility are "repaying" by giving up two vacation days and working two hours a week of uncompensated overtime.
That arrangement flabbergasts Leone.
"That's like saying I'm going to have my son plant a bush in front of my house. I wasn't going to have that bush there to begin with, but I'm not going to pay him, and that's the way I'm going to save 40 bucks an hour," he said. "It's just crazy."
Asbury said STRS began offering the adoption subsidy in 1997 at the request of the late R. David Thomas, an adoptee who later founded the Wendy's hamburger chain. STRS spokeswoman Laura Ecklar said four employees have received a total of $16,073 in adoption payments since then.
As for the 37½-hour workweek, Asbury said it's "a practice that goes back for many years. I'm not sure of the genesis of it, but that will be looked at" in a comprehensive audit that state lawmakers have asked the Ohio Retirement Study Council to do on the five pension systems.
The audit is expected to be completed early next year.
State Sen. Kirk Schuring, a Canton Republican who has been critical of some of STRS' employee perks, said he wants to read the audit before urging further reforms.
"It appears that there are still some things that are happening there that are above and beyond the industry standards," he said. "The issue, however, is once you offer certain benefits . . . it makes it difficult to make wholesale changes."
Asbury said he has worked hard to earn retirees' trust by meeting regularly with CORE members and responding to their many requests for public records. He also pointed to numerous policy changes the board has made, including:
Reducing expenditures for 2003-04 to $74.4 million, $7.9 million less than budgeted.
Ending the bonus program for noninvestment staff.
Limiting board travel reimbursement to $6,000 a year per member, with no member being allowed to take more than three trips a year.
Taking away STRS vehicles that the fund had allowed eight executives and their family members to drive.
Reducing the payroll from 735 employees in 2002 to 634 today.
"I understand that our first priority is to make sure that our expenditures are reasonable," Asbury said. "I'm committed to that."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Ohio Retirement Study Council to meet October 14, 2009; open to the public

From the ORSC, October 7, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
9:00 a.m.
Room 313 (changed [again] 10/13/09)
Columbus, OH
  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Minutes of Previous Meeting
  • Investment Performance Review for the Period Ending June 30, 2009 – Presented by Paul Morgan of Evaluation Associates
  • ORSC Update on 30-Year Funding Plans Investment Report on Ohio-Based Brokers/Managers Pursuant to S.B. 133 - Presented by the Systems
  • Rules
  • Announcement of Next Meeting
  • Adjournment

STRS Board to meet October 14 - 15, 2009

From STRS, October 7, 2009
The State Teachers Retirement Board and Committee meetings currently scheduled at the STRS Ohio offices, 275 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, are as follows:
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
...11 a.m. Disability Review Panel and Final Average Salary Committee Meetings (Executive Session)
Thursday, October 15, 2009
...9 a.m. Retirement Board Meeting
The Retirement Board meeting will come to order at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009, and begin with a report from the Finance Dept., followed by the Investment Dept., Long-Term Fiduciary and Financial Contingency Planning, Executive Director's Report, public participation, routine matters, old business, new business or other matters requiring attention.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

CORE meeting October 15, 2009

From Mary Ellen Angeletti, October 6, 2009
CORE (Concerned Ohio Retired Educators) will hold its October meeting on Thursday, October 15th at the STRS building at 275 East Broad Street in Columbus. Parking is free in the STRS parking garage behind the building. We encourage you to also attend the STRS meeting which usually begins around 9:00 a.m. on Thursday in the meeting room on the 6th floor but this beginning time varies from month to month. For this reason, we suggest you check with the STRS website ( to confirm the time. The STRS meetings have included Friday as well as Thursday so you might want to check on this too.
Remember that CORE meeting attendees usually leave the STRS meeting around 11:30 on Thursday in order to go to the cafeteria room behind the the Sublett Room on the second floor of the STRS building where the CORE meeting will begin promptly at 11:45.
If you have suggestions for the October CORE meeting agenda, please send a reply to John Curry at so that he can relay this information to CORE President, Dave Parshall.

Monday, October 05, 2009

STRS Flashback - 6 Years Ago - Betty apologized, Jimmy felt a little bit of responsibility and Eugene dodged while....

From John Curry, October 5, 2009
....Dr. Leone admonished all for engaging in crazy spending practices.
October 9, 2003
Pension system failures debated
Copley Columbus Bureau chief
COLUMBUS — Two candidates for governor in 2006 disagreed Wednesday on how to improve oversight of the state’s five pension systems, but a critic of one of those funds blasted both for ignoring their responsibilities.
Though six witnesses testified that they supported Senate Bill 133, omnibus legislation intended to reform the operation of the pension systems, all of them also had trouble with it.
They appeared before the Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee, which has put the measure, sponsored by its chairman, Sen. Lynn R. Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, on a fast track.
The pension systems have come under increased scrutiny since June after media reports, many by Copley Ohio Newspapers, about excessive spending and policy lapses while investment portfolios fell and member health-care costs rose.
State Auditor Betty Montgomery apologized, saying that during her eight years as attorney general her representatives on the pension boards, particularly the State Teachers Retirement System, should have done a better job of monitoring their decisions.
But an apology had to be dragged out of Attorney General Jim Petro, the former state auditor.
He and Montgomery have announced they will run for governor in 2006.
Petro said he has been warning for 20 years that reform has been needed. He said a lack of confidence in the systems is not new.
“The lack of confidence has been there,” he said.
“Did your representative fail in his responsibilities,” said Sen. Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown, who earlier had put the same question to Montgomery.
“Absolutely not,” Petro said.
“Your predecessor accepted responsibility,” countered Sen. Dan Brady, D-Cleveland. “Couldn’t you accept responsibility?”
“That’s a fair point,” Petro said.
Petro admitted his representatives on the boards fought for changes during his first term as auditor, but they were less vocal in his second term.
“I feel a little bit of responsibility” for that, he said.
Montgomery told the committee she opposes SB 133’s provision to remove the attorney general from the pension boards, while Petro said it was a good idea. They agreed that the Office of Inspector General should not have expanded authority to investigate the pension systems.
Chillicothe Superintendent Dennis Leone, who many credit with initiating the investigation into STRS, said Montgomery and Petro should have been watching the systems closer and sooner. He also accused all nine members of the STRS board, including representatives of Petro and Montgomery, of violating state law for engaging in “crazy spending practices.”
He said SB 133 does not properly address inequities in the representation between active teachers and retired members.
Both Eugene Norris, chairman of the STRS board, and Laurie Hacking, executive director of the Public Employees Retirement System, promised their cooperation to work with the committee.
Norris dodged questions from Wachtmann about whether members of his board inquired about spending practices before they came to light in June.
Hacking said she opposed changing the membership of her board. Other provisions of the bill she described as “reasonable.”
Mary Beth Hunter of Alliance encouraged Wachtmann to allow plenty of time to hear from anyone willing to come to Columbus to testify about his bill.
“I don’t silence witnesses,” Wachtmann said. “Take all the time you need.”
With a smile, he added he didn’t mind shutting up fellow committee members when they launch into speeches.

Response from Justin Spicer re: Message for Kevin Boyce

From Justin Spicer, October 5, 2009
Subject: RE: Message for Mr. Boyce
Dear Ms. Bracy,
I will certainly forward your message to Treasurer Boyce, though I believe he has already received it. should work. If you continue to experience problems with it, please let me know, and I will be sure to raise the issue with our IT department. I apologize for the inconvenience.
Thank you,
Justin Spicer
Constituent Liaison
Department of Constituent Services
Ohio Treasurer Kevin L. Boyce
Phone: 614.728.0346
From Kathie Bracy, October 2, 2009
Subject: Message for Mr. Boyce
Hello, Justin --
Would you be so kind as to get my message (below) to Mr. Boyce? I tried repeatedly to get it to him via his website (, but it wouldn't go through. Someone else tried his e-mail address (, but that got bounced back. If you could tell me what address I should use, I would appreciate it very much.
Thank you.
Kathie Bracy
Dear Mr. Boyce,
As an STRS retiree, I am strongly urging you to consider appointing Prof. Tom Hall of Miami University to the STRS Board. For three years we have been stuck with a 10-member Board instead of the legally mandated eleven. We need that 11th member BADLY.
Tom Hall is highly qualified and willing to serve. Please give serious thought to appointing him. If he is not your choice, then I urge you to please work as hard as you can to appoint as soon as possible some other highly qualified individual who has a sincere interest in the plight of retirees and STRS issues.
Many retirees are depending on you; this has gone on too long (since before you took office), and people are hurting. Any help you can give us will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.
Kathie Bracy
Columbus, OH

Karen Butt: A response to John Curry

John Curry to Ann Hanning, October 5, 2009
Subject: Re: Response to John Curry
Thank you for forwarding Karen's reply to me. Would you please see that she gets this reply?
Thank you for relating to me that you feel STRS health care costs are "unreasonably high." Apparently, the statement in the Bucyrus Telegraph Forum ( ) that was attributed to you was a misquote:
"Karen Butt, western area vice president of Ohio Retired Teachers Association (ORTA) presented updates about ORTA. House Bill 3156 has been put on hold. An area meeting is planned for April in Findlay. Two new teacher members were elected to ORTA. State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) was begun in 1920 and is working to keep health care affordable. Jim Miller, a national consultant, spoke at the ORTA meeting in May."
I hope that the Crawford County RTA members and especially the readers of the Bucyrus Telegraph Forum certainly don't believe, because of that statement, that STRS "is continuing to keep healthcare affordable," when it really isn't affordable. Had the quote been attributed to me, I would certainly have contacted the editor of the "Telegraph" and demanded a retraction. I trust you will do this or already have. In case you haven't, here is the email address of the editor (Tom Brennan) of the Bucyrus Telegraph:
As to my regards to STRS re. my specific questions concerning STRS....well, I have contacted both the "board" and Executive Director numerous times concerning what they have done in the past and what they are planning to do in the future. Some board members have been more than happy to answer and some don't reply. My latest email (September 21, 2009) to Executive Director Mike Nehf has, to date, not been replied to. It was a letter requesting clarification of the certainty (or lack thereof) of retirees' benefit payments. Here is the text of that letter. The attachment that I sent to Mr. Nehf is also included in this email to you. This letter addresses an issue that many retirees (and actives) are still in need of clarification.
John Curry
[View original letter here.]
From Karen Butt, September 30, 2009 (via Ann Hanning)
Subject: Response to John Curry
John, In regards to my statement made at the Crawford County Retired Teachers meeting concerning health care: I do believe that health care costs are unreasonably high. Whether we like it or not and whether or not we agree with it, STRS guarantees our pensions but not our health care. Several years ago when I first became an active member of ORTA, our retired STRS representative on the Board said in a meeting that retirement without health care is not really (good) retirement. I agree. What I was trying to convey at the meeting was that STRS is trying to keep health care as affordable as possible for us retirees and unforunately, at this time that does not make it affordable at all for most of our spouses. I am well aware of the problem. My niece who is 42 is married to a retired teacher who is 60. She has had cancer twice and is not able to obtain health insurance coverage elsewhere than through his STRS policy. He works part time and she has 4 parttime jobs. They have 3 young children who are not covered by any health care insurance. This is a problem that affects us all. We are certainly not in this alone. I did not mean to sound to you that I think all is well with health care---I certainly do not think that. In regards to your specific questions concerning STRS--what they have done in the past and what they are planning to do in the future; I think you need to contact them personally if you have not done so already.
Karen Butt

June Hughes: An unsealed Rx from Express Scripts

From Sandy Knoesel, October 5, 2009
Subject: Re:
Great Concern about a Medication received from ES
Thank you for contacting me about your concerns. I'll check into this.
Sandy Knoesel
June Hughes to Sandy Knoesel, October 4, 2009
Subject: Great Concern about a Medication received from ES
I feel there's a sneak going on with ES. I ordered as usual and received Tricor in an unsealed container from ES. Why? I've been taking this for over 11 years and the containers have ALWAYS been sealed with a foil type seal under the cap when from the original manufacturer and other STRS suppliers. I questioned ES and of course got the run around with no satisfactory answer or reason why. The original container even says Do Not Accept This Medication If the Seal is Broken. Well there was NO seal on this order.
Also, I feel there should be a notification when the manufacturer of a medication is changed. The last order of another medication was from a different manufacturer. If a person investigates medications, you will find that even though the medication is 'supposed' to be the same, a different manufacturer may use a different coating, not quite the same compound mixture sources, absorption rates etc. In negotiations, these issues need to be addressed for, we the purchasers, safety!! When feasible, I have gone to local pharmacies to ask if they will order from a particular manufacturer. They have been very willing to comply. This is a reason I do NOT order most of my medications from ES, they are not consistent because I have had adverse reactions to different manufacturers and I do not to wish to have my body REQUIRED to use something that doesn't perform as well.
What do you think about this? I get no satisfaction from ES. I've talked with the phone person, a pharmacist, a supervisor etc. (Supervisors can do nothing which is a waste of money and time. And in the past I have gotten erroneous information from one of their pharmacists.)......June
Thank you - H June Hughes (1990)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

John Curry to Kevin Boyce re: Appointment to STRS Board

From John Curry, October 4, 2009
Mr. Boyce,
I am writing to ask that you appoint a person to the open seat on the Ohio State Teachers Retirement Board. You took office this year and, at that time, this seat was vacant. Nine months later and 140,000 retirees of STRS are still waiting.
Many of these retirees are informed and will also consider your name for reelection in 2010. Don't let us down. When you took office on Jan. 6 of this year, Governor Strickland said of you," As state treasurer, Kevin will provide effective and experienced management over our state dollars and also give Ohioans the financial literacy they need to deal with these challenging times." Kevin....we benefits recipients of STRS are in dire need of a board member who will also provide effective and experienced management over "our dollars" while, at the same time, giving us financial literacy that we need after losing billions of dollars of our investments. Mr. Boyce, neither of us can afford to wait any longer.
Thank you,
John Curry
Wapakoneta, OH

Re: Retired teachers in Oklahoma are not OK...but check out the bennies for actives and legislators!

From RH Jones, October 4, 2009
Re: Retired teachers in Oklahoma are not OK...but check out the bennies for actives and legislators!

John Curry, et al: Re: our little death benefit in danger.
Like us, Oklahoma retired educators may be worse off than their legislatures, but did you notice the last sentence: While ours is only $1000, their death benefit payable to the beneficiciares of retired educators is $5000! And their OREA is setting a legislative goal to raise it to $7,500. Can you imagine our ORTA or OEA-R asking for 7,500? And this death benefit is one of the items that our STRS would like to take away from us even though it is grandfathered. Nowadays, a decent funeral costs a lot more than $1000. Personally, I will be keeping an eye on ORTA and OEA-R to see if they let this cut happen. I hope all other members do too.
RHJones, Paid Up For Life in ORTA, and OEA-R, but a very proud member of CORE
From John Curry, October 4, 2009
Subject: Retired teachers in Oklahoma are not OK...but check out the bennies for actives and legislators!

"The current state premium subsidy for retired educators averages about $105 per month. In contrast, active state educators benefit from 100 percent payment of their monthly premiums – almost $450. Active state employees – including legislators – not only receive the 100 percent for themselves, but also a sizable monthly benefit for dependent insurance premiums."

Retired teachers group sets 2010 legislative goals

NewsPress Staff

October 03, 2009 12:07 am

The Oklahoma Retired Educators Association today announced its goals for the 2010 legislative session.
Executive Director Norman Cooper said the organization would continue its vigorous pursuit of equitable cost-of-living benefits improvements for retired educators.
He pointed out that in recent years retired educators in the Teachers’ Retirement System have received every-other-year COLAs at only half the rate as retirees in other state retirement systems.
“It seems that virtually every legislator agrees with us that retired educators deserve the same COLA treatment as retirees in other state retirement systems.
In 2006 and again in 2008, other retirees were granted 4 percent COLAs while retired educators received only 2 percent,” Cooper said. “It’s time for legislators to eliminate this inequity.”
Noting that health insurance premiums for retired educators continue to increase dramatically, Cooper said OREA will call upon legislators to raise the state insurance premium subsidy for retired educators by at least $100 per month.
Health premiums for pre-Medicare retired educators have grown by more than 500 percent in the last 20 years – from approximately $75 per month to almost $450 – while the state premium subsidy was raised by only $30 a month, almost 10 years ago.
The current state premium subsidy for retired educators averages about $105 per month. In contrast, active state educators benefit from 100 percent payment of their monthly premiums – almost $450. Active state employees – including legislators – not only receive the 100 percent for themselves, but also a sizable monthly benefit for dependent insurance premiums.
A third OREA goal for the 2010 legislative session will be to improve the financial health of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS), one of the most poorly funded large public pension systems in the nation.
The system’s current liabilities are over $9 billion, with only about 50 percent of the necessary assets available to meet long term obligations.
“TRS will never get well financially unless the legislature makes a major funding commitment to the system.
Supplemental funding to the system that began in 2007 is welcome, but much more is needed,” Cooper said.
Other OREA legislative goals include:
• Protection of the TRS defined benefit plan design in order to shield active and retired educators from excessive investment risk
• A one-time “catch up” benefits improvement for qualifying retired educators living at or below the poverty level
• Protection of the state’s revenue base and preservation of essential government services through opposition to tax cuts
• An increase from $5,000 to $7,500 in the death benefit payable to the beneficiaries of retired educators.

What a Stark County blogger (and attorney) has to say about Kirk Schuring and the STRS mess.........

From John Curry, October 3, 2009
About Blogger
Martin Olson Uniontown, Stark County, United States B.A. - Political Science J.D. (Attorney at Law) AN INDEPENDENT MINDED POLITICAL COMMENTATOR Until 1976 I was a Republican. Since then I have considered myself a Democrat. So after long term stints of being a Republican, then a Democrat, I have come to the political position I feel most comfortable with - being an INDEPENDENT MINDED ANALYST who demands effectiveness of our politicians - Republican, Democrat or whatever.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Stark Countians have witnessed how many U.S workers have worked a lifetime to have retirement benefits only to loose them when companies go into bankruptcy.
Could the same thing happen to the professional class in America?
When Enron went belly up a number of years ago, the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) lost millions of dollars. Some of us wanted to pointed the finger at the then state Representative Kirk Schuring (Republican - 51st) chairman of the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) for not putting in safeguards in place to prevent the losses.
Yours truly has never seen Schuring madder.
At a meeting at the North Canton Community Christian Church to explain to Stark County's teachers what responsibility he bore for the oversight malfunction of STRS investors; the red faced, angered Schuring vehemently denied any neglect.
Mad or not, the SCPR believes that Schuring and his fellows on the ORSC were asleep then and, perhaps, the slumber continues.
Today, the SCPR received an e-mail from STRS that indicated that a statutorily mandated requirement that it be able to fund teacher pensions out 30 years had slipped to 41.2 years as of July, 2008 and now in 2009 to - get this - INFINITY!
Here's the quote from the e-mail:
Even with these changes, the funding period for the pension fund stood at 41.2 years on July 1, 2008. This means that based on the value of investment assets at that time, we expected to pay off all unfunded liabilities over the next 41 years by achieving an 8% annual rate of return and meeting all other actuarial assumptions. However, due to the recession, the market value of our investment assets declined by about $24 billion over the past two fiscal years. As a result, STRS Ohio's unfunded liability almost doubled in just one year and the funding period now stands at "infinity." (emphasis added)
It wasn't until May, 2009 that Schuring and his fellows at the ORSC caught on.
In May according to the STRS e-mail:
[T]he Ohio Retirement Study Council, which is the legislative oversight body for Ohio's five public pension systems, instructed each system in May to present board-approved plans for achieving or maintaining a 30-year funding period at the ORSC's Sept. 9 meeting.
What are the options that the ORSC will be considering for STRS?
Here they are:
Increasing contributions from the current 10% from active teachers and/or 14% from employers.
Instituting a minimum retirement age or years of service for retirement.
Increasing the number of years used to calculate final average salary to five from three.
Changing the formula for calculating pensions.
Changing the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).
No action is expected by the Ohio Retirement Study Council until its October, 2009 meeting. Even if ORSC acts in October, it could take months before corrective legislative action can be taken and enacted into law (getting the governor's signature) before the "infinity" timetable has a finite number put on it.
What will the finite number be? 50 years? 60 years? 70 years?
Kirk Schuring and Scott Oelslager (who likes to invoke his teacher parents as proof he looks out for teacher interests) have been roundly criticized by yours truly primarily because they violate the "spirit" of Ohio's term limits (switching back and forth between the 29th (Ohio Senate) and the 51st (Ohio House).
But there are other reasons why this duo need to be via election term limited by Stark Countians.
Of course, there is Schuring and his "failure to protect" the retirement of Stark County's teachers.
And, there is the failure to be in the lead in fixing the funding of Ohio's public schools ruled unconstitutional four times by the Ohio Supreme Court (DeRolfe) What is particularly galling about this pair is that they were members of the majority party (supermajority - veto proof) with a sitting Republican governor for a good portion of their time in the Legislature.
Moreover, the larger picture is that only thing that this duo has produced of consequence over their years in the Ohio General Assembly is Oelslager's work on open records.
Does anyone remember Schuring's "I'm going to fix the public schools funding problem" by way of constitutional amendment that never got off the ground? It was a pipe dream from the beginning. Even if it had gotten through the Ohio General Assembly, Governor Strickland was going to veto the provision because he had to protect his "I love him like a brother" protege John Boccieri.
The SCPR believes that Schuring was never serious about the effort. It was designed to get free ink for the impending campaign against Boccieri; nothing more.
Schuring's and Oelslager's legislative record is pathetic and if Stark Countians continue to send them back to Columbus, then we Stark Countians, are part of our own problem.
One out for the voters is that the Stark County Democratic Party has put sacrificial lamb after sacrificial lamb up against these two election after election after election.
Will current Stark Democratic Party chair Randy Gonzalez do better than the recently resigned Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.?
For the SCPR, this will be a litmus test as to whether or not Gonzalez is going to pay more attention to the electability and the quality of the party's candidates than Maier did during his tenure.
From the looks of how Schuring and Oelslager have not looked after education-in-general and educators-in-particular; those with a vested interest in STRS ought to be demanding that Gonzalez and the Democrats over a serious alternative come November, 2009.
But will they?
Probably not. That would mean educators getting their hands dirty in the messy world of politics.
That "above-it-all-attitude," even when self-interest compels action, is exactly what Schuring and Oelslager rely on.
Posted by Martin Olson
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