Saturday, February 05, 2011

Dennis Leone responds to teacher facing decision on when to retire

From Dennis Leone, February 5, 2012
A couple of reactions from this ex-STRS board member that you may share with [xxx]:
1. The vote on Issue 2 really has nothing to do with STRS.
2. Proposed House Bill 69, which is the pension solvency legislation, will not be considered further until lawmakers examine a consultant’s report about the assumptions (pertaining to projected stock market returns and projected active member dollars received yearly at STRS) that the STRS Board used in developing the proposal that the House Committee on Aging currently has. The proposed legislation eliminates the current 35-year/88% benefit beginning in 2015, taking it back to a 77% benefit (as it was prior to 2000).
3. I think it is safe to assume that a if a teacher currently has 36 years vested, he/she likely can work 3 more years and receive a pension based on current rules. I do not see the Legislature implementing a new law that will cause an instantaneous change for teachers who are currently in the system – except for the fact that current teachers will see their annual contribution rate rise.
4. Hopefully, our lawmakers will act soon enough so active member contributions will rise beginning August 1, 2012. The longer the final decision is postponed, the worse it will be on the long-term solvency of our pension fund.
5. It also deserves noting that the final plan adopted by the Legislature likely will be different from the plan recommended by the STRS Board. It is best for current active teachers to keep on an eye on what the final version is so they know how it might affect them.
Dennis Leone

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

So....what did the OEA groundhog predict when he came out of his hole this morning on Broad Street?

From John Curry, February 2, 2011
4 more years of 88/35 "phase out" (until 2015) but the 3% COLA reduction is just around the corner (2012)!
"Buckeye Bill"

Pension Bills Introduced at Statehouse

From STRS, February 2, 2011
On Feb. 1, 2011, Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) introduced House Bill 69 containing changes to the five statewide public pension plans, including STRS Ohio. However, this version of the bill does not contain all of the components that comprise the plan the State Teachers Retirement Board adopted on Jan. 27, 2011. The January plan does not include an increase in employer contributions and also includes changes that bring the funding period for STRS Ohio pensions to no more than 30 years. Click the following link to view the plan:
A placeholder bill addressing pension reform, Senate Bill 3, was also introduced on Feb. 1 by Sen. Keith Faber (R-Celina). At this time, the only language that it contains calls for changes to the Ohio Revised Code "... to modernize, update, and improve the actuarial soundness of the Public Employees Retirement System, Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund, State Teachers Retirement System, School Employees Retirement System, and State Highway Patrol Retirement System."
H.B. 69 has been assigned to the House Health and Aging Committee, which is chaired by Wachtmann. During sponsor testimony on Feb. 2, Wachtmann noted that he would like to see pension legislation enacted concurrently with the budget and completed by July 1. During his remarks, he also noted the importance of preserving health care coverage for retired public employees if possible.
A Health and Aging Subcommittee on Pensions will first review the bill. This subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and consists of Reps. Bruce Goodwin (R-Defiance), Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown), Richard Hollington (R-Chagrin Falls), Todd McKenney (R-Akron), Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) and Wachtmann. A meeting schedule for the subcommittee has not yet been issued.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

How's this for 'misrepresentations'?

From John Curry, February 1, 2011
Quiz of the day...who said this and when?
"The OEA is committed to protecting the pension benefits of current and future retirees and ensuring that they receive affordable, adequate, high quality health care."
Gee, Gary, what happened to the "affordable, adequate, and high quality"?
From: Wroe, Debbie [mailto:]
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2003 8:57 AM
To: District Leaders; Exec Committee; All Local Presidents; OEA-R; STRS Board
Subject: STRS Health Care

To: Executive Committee, District Leaders, Local Presidents, OEA-R Advisory Council, STRS Board Members
From: Gary L. Allen, President
Re: STRS Health Care
Recently, Dennis Leone, superintendent of the Chillicothe school district, distributed via e-mail the statement and related report he presented to the board of the Ohio State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) on May 16, 2003. Some recipients have elected to indiscriminately broadcast the report despite its misrepresentations. In response to related inquiries from leaders and members, we are distributing the following statement. If you are asked to respond to questions regarding Mr. Leone’s report, I request that you use the following report to frame your response. The OEA is committed to protecting the pension benefits of current and future retirees and ensuring that they receive affordable, adequate, high quality health care. We believe that the STRS Board and staff are equally committed. We will continue to operate according to that principle.
If you have questions about this matter, please contact me or Bill Leibensperger, or of course, STRS.
Gary L. Allen
Was it a misrepresentation when Dr. Leone was given the title of "Catcher of Thieves" by District Administration Magazine (
Was it a misrepresentation when Dr. Leone was awarded the "First Amendment Award" by the Ohio Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2004 (
Was it a misrepresentation when the Government Finance Officers Association awarded Dr. Leone the Ohio Ethics Award in 2005 (
Yeah...all that for "misrepresentation(s)" of facts about the misspending, mismanagement and entitlement mentality at STRS, eh, Gary?
But, if the above is not enough then maybe you can now explain why the Governor of Ohio personally asked Dr. Leone to attend the signing of the Pension Reform Law of 2004 (formerly Senate Bill 133) and presented that pen to Dr. Leone on June 16, 2004. (
Come to think of it, Gary......soon there will be another pension reform bill signed in the Governor's office, as it is on a fast track. I've got a hunch Dr. Leone stands a better chance of getting another pen for his collection than anyone from the OEA....what do you think, Gary?
Maybe that is why Dr. Leone was given the title of "Catcher of Thieves" by District Administration Magazine (, was awarded the "First Amendment Award" by the Ohio Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2004 ( and the Ohio Ethics Award from the Government Finance Officers Association in 2005 ( Yeah...all that for "misrepresentations" of facts about the misspending, mismanagement and entitlement mentality at STRS, eh, Gary?
STRS Board to meet February 16-17, 2011
Details here

OK,'s the House Bill 69 introduced today but remember.....

....remember that it is a "placeholder" bill and many changes will be made to it. It does not yet contain STRS's most recent recommendations as of last week. Stay tuned! The parts that apply to STRS are found about 3/4 of the way through this bill (it begins with the words "Sec. 3307.26"). Below is the link to click on to read it.
From John Curry, February 1, 2011

Your Rx kinda high? Senator Brown thinks so

Senator Sherrod Brown to Linda Meinelt, February 1, 2011
Dear Mrs. Meinelt:
I am working to lower drug prices and increase the timely availability of generic biologic drugs in the market.. Biologic drugs, derived from proteins, treat diseases and conditions such as cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Biologics are an expensive subset of prescription medicines, often ranging in price from $10,000 to $100,000 per patient, per year. Like chemical drugs, generic versions of biologics would bring competition to the pharmaceutical marketplace and reduce costs for patients, as well as state and federal governments. Access to safe and effective — but less expensive — versions of brand-name biologics is clearly in the public interest.
Americans spent more than $40 billion in 2007 on biologic drugs, and this number is expected to increase since biologic drugs represent a larger and larger segment of our pharmaceutical marketplace. I am committed to bringing down the costs of biologic drugs by increasing the availability of generic alternatives to these expensive medicines
Last week, I became an original cosponsor of bipartisan legislation, S.. 27, the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act. S. 27 would increase competition in the pharmaceutical market by stopping anticompetitive agreements between brand name and generic drug manufacturers that delay the availability of generic drugs for patients. S. 27 would end “pay-for-delay” settlements. The practice of “pay-for-delay” allows brand-name drug manufactures to pay a generic drug competitor to delay its entry into the market in order to further increase profits for the brand-name company. This legislation would allow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action against companies participating in “pay-for-delay” agreements, thus increasing generic biologics and reducing costs for consumers .
Additionally, I led a bipartisan letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, expressing concern about possible misinterpretations of current law that could further delay the availability of generic biologic drugs. My letter to Commissioner Hamburg clarified that the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) — which was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — allows the FDA to review generic applications in a more timely manner. Though I strongly oppose the 12-year monopoly period granted to brand-name biologics — shielding them from generic competition — it is imperative that the FDA resist efforts that would further delay access beyond the 12-years granted in law. The FDA has been pressured to interpret the law in ways which would extend the exclusivity well beyond 12 years, which was not the intent of BPCIA and is not in the best interest of patients.
I am committed to lowering prescription drugs costs through increasing market competition and generic options. Absent generic competition, biologic drugs will continue to cost patients thousands of dollars for a single dose. I strenuously object to any efforts that would further block or delay generic competition at the expense of patients in need.
Sherrod Brown
United States Senator

STRS Payday (Click image twice to enlarge)

OEA, You forgot something!

From John Curry, February 1, 2011
The OEA forgot to mention one "fact" in their memo (OEA Retirement Systems Update of 1/27/2011) to their OEA members....the fact that there were both an OEA and an OFT endorsed STRS board member (and also each an active educator) who did not vote like blind sheep against the latest STRS pension reform measure passed by the STRS board last week in the 7-3 vote of approval of STRS's most recent recommendation to the Ohio legislature.
Who were these active teacher members who thought for not only themselves but the betterment of ALL STRS stakeholders (translated....not just active educators)? I commend them for not being selfish and looking out for others besides themselves. Maybe, one of these days, the OEA will realize that the whole world doesn't rotate around their position re: the direction that the STRS retirement board should be taking for ALL STRS stakeholders.
CORE meeting scheduled for February 17, 2011
Details here.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Something the OEA just doesn't want to seem to face.....

From John Curry, January 31, 2011
Most active educators will, one day, become retirees under the STRS......very few STRS retirees will ever step foot back into the classroom.....they don't have that luxury of time on their side to make life-altering decisions or to plan how to increase their retirement paychecks for worse times, do they? One thing for sure..... in the eyes of the OEA...retirees aren't paying dues to support THEIR officials' lifestyles, are they?
Patricia Frost-Brooks (President): $172,288
William Leibensperger (Vice-President): $149,450
James Timlin (Secy.-Treasurer): $150,426
Larry Wicks (Executive Director): $185,108

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Laura, a question........

John Curry to Laura Ecklar, January 30, 2011
Why were CORE representatives not addressed in this email as we also are very interested in what is happening at STRS and it is "useful" to us also?

From: "Ecklar, Laura" <>
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2011 15:30:52 -0500
To: "Bernardini, Felicia" <>, "Bierdeman, Teresa" <>, "Bump, Marla" <>, "Cervantes, Mary Ann" <>, "Davis, Robert" <>, "Hanning, Ann" <>, "Hoffman, Shelly" <>, Darold Johnson <>, "Knoesel, Sandy" <>, "Leibensberger, Bill" <>, "Lewellen, Larry" <>, "Nehf, Mike" <>, "Seaman, Tom" <>, "Slater, Robert" <>, "Suver, Mike" <>, "Taylor, Sue" <>, "Treneff, Nick" <>, "Zellner, Lisa" <>
Subject: Report of Today's Board Action
I realize that all of you are on our e-mail news service, but I thought I would go ahead and send you a PDF of today’s Board News detailing the board’s actions today, in case this might be useful to you. Thanks!

Tom Curtis re: Individual Amounts To Make Up For Investment Losses And Mismanagement

From Tom Curtis, January 30, 2011
Subject: Ohio Retirement Systems, Individual Costs For Fix
It's pretty hard to stomach what you will read below. The fix for the STRS is nearly double the amount for all of the other 4 combined.
This is why Concerned Ohio Retired Educators (CORE) came into existence in 2003. We tried to sound the alarm, but few retirees and even fewer actives would listen. The overwhelming number of actives could not take the time to listen.
Oh, that's right, the actives put all of their faith in what the OEA told them, "Don't worry, be happy. The STRS is just fine." Thanks, OEA officials. It is pretty clear that all the OEA leadership is interested in is the dues actives pay. It would appear they were not guarding the hen house.
I rather doubt any active could be happy about the changes that are coming.
Tom Curtis,
STRS Retiree

Ohio Retirement Systems -- Individual Costs for Fix

From John Curry, January 30 2011

Individual Amounts To Make Up For Investment Losses
...STRS ---- 10.9 Billion
...Ohio Police and Fire ---- 2.9 Billion
...Public Employees --- 2.2 Billion
...Highway Patrol ---- 83 Million
...School Employees --- 44 Million does this square with our "crack" investments associates that STRS is "worried" about that they will leave for greener pastures?

Ohio's retirement much will each one have to pay?

From John Curry, January 30, 2011
Retirement funds: All state workers will pay for fixes
More than $16 billion needed after recession
Columbus Dispatch
January 30, 2011
Teachers, law-enforcement officers, state workers and other Ohio public employees must give up more than $16 billion to fix their financially beleaguered pension funds.
Most will have to work longer before they can retire. Many will have to pay more for their pension. Some retirees will see reductions in their annual cost-of-living adjustments.
And the 1.7 million active and inactive state pension-fund members, beneficiaries and other recipients could be hit up for even more sacrifices.
The state's five retirement systems finalized plans last week to restore fiscal health to pension funds battered by economic recession, rising health-care costs and changing demographics. And in the no-new-taxes atmosphere currently enveloping Ohio, the burden was placed entirely on state workers - in contrast to earlier versions of the plans that could have cost taxpayers more than $1 billion.
"There's absolutely no room, philosophically or otherwise, to ask the taxpayers via school levies or income-tax levies or whatever the case may be, to foot a higher bill," said state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, chairman of the House Committee on Health and Aging.
"In my opinion, I think the taxpayers are extremely generous already."
The Republican from Napoleon plans to roll out legislation on Wednesday designed to implement the proposals. He hopes it will be approved before summer.
Along with the recommendations of the funds themselves, the proposal might shift some of the cost from government employers (taxpayers) to the workers. Currently, the government pays for a portion of employees' retirement, ranging from 14 percent for teachers and state workers to 26.5 percent for State Highway Patrol employees.
The stakes in who picks up that tab are huge. Shifting the burden by a mere 0.1 percent across all five pension systems means $258 million, Wachtmann said.
He said he also hopes to go after pension double-dippers - public employees who retire and collect pensions, and then find other government jobs and get those salaries, too - although that practice should decrease as retirement ages rise.
"We're going to look at more-comprehensive language that may specifically speak to double-dipping," Wachtmann said.
The Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund will get special attention. It is now the only retirement system without at least a plan to meet state law that requires enough assets to pay off pension obligations in 30 years or less.
Under the plan Police & Fire submitted last week, the payoff would take 36 years - far faster the previous rating of "infinity," but not good enough, Wachtmann said.
"I will not pass a bill out of my committee ... that doesn't comply with state law," he said. "I personally have been asking Police & Fire for over a decade to get their house in order."
Police & Fire spokesman David Graham said the fund's board will look at revamping its plan. It will cost $309 million to bring the proposal into compliance with the 30-year requirement, he said.
Graham said forcing sweeping changes based on a single fiscal assessment of the fund "is inconsistent with the long-term nature of the systems. ... Requiring a system to submit annual recommendations for funding creates unwarranted anxiety with stakeholders and creates an environment prone to reactions or 'solutions' that are not thoroughly discussed or put in the proper context."
Mark Sanders, a Cincinnati firefighter and president of the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters, said that unlike the other pension funds, there has not been an increase in taxpayer contributions to the Police & Fire Pension Fund since 1986 and "that needs to be taken into consideration."
"Our membership certainly knows that taxpayers have been hurting these past few years, but studies have shown the funding level from the employer side since about the mid-1990s has shown to be inadequate in some areas," Sanders said.
Sally Meckling, spokeswoman for the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association - which is the largest state union, representing 34,000 workers - said members generally support moves proposed by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. By far the largest state pension fund, PERS' plan affects employees minimally compared with some of the other proposals.
"I think they tried to do as little damage as possible to the employee," she said. "We absolutely believe that we are sharing the sacrifice."
That sacrifice may increase in coming months as officials at the retirement systems tackle exploding health-care costs, which in general were not addressed in plans submitted last week. While health care is not mandated in state pension-fund laws, leaders of the five systems as well as Wachtmann say those benefits should remain.
Dispatch Senior Editor Joe Hallett contributed to this story.
Click image to enlarge.
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