Friday, January 27, 2017

Handout to STRS Board members at their Education and Planning meeting 1/26/17

The Speech I Would Have Made If This Had Been a Regular STRS Board Meeting
Good afternoon. My name is Kathie Bracy; I am a member of the Ohio Retired Teachers Association and a Trustee to that board from Franklin County. Some of you will remember me, as I have attended many STRS Board meetings over the years. 
I am here to defend the COLA for all STRS beneficiaries who retired before the year 2000. You may recall that was the year the STRS Board enacted the 35-year/88% pension formula, ensuring a very comfortable retirement for those who qualified. Some of those very people were sitting on the STRS Board at that time and voted for this! I'll leave it to you to guess why.
Although the formula was discontinued in 2015, the 88 percenters are still living quite comfortably, financially, and always will. If the STRS Board is considering making COLA cuts, the COLA for this group should be the first to go. Some of those people are receiving $3,000-$4,000 COLAs every year, something the pre-2000 retirees will never see! There is absolutely no justification for continuing to pay out hefty COLAs to those who are already getting extremely generous pensions for the rest of their lives. 
Then there are those whose annual pensions exceed $120,000. How badly do these people need a COLA? Maybe, if they want to plan a trip around the world instead of a weekend at one of Ohio’s state parks. Time to cut their COLA, too. Out the door!
The future retirees are the next group that should receive no COLA at all. Members of this group are getting salaries far higher than pre-2000 retirees ever dreamed of! They too will be in much better financial shape to handle their living expenses than the pre-2000 retirees. That should be pretty obvious.
Those who retired before 2000 are facing steadily increasing costs for home insurance, auto insurance, utilities, healthcare and more, just like everyone else. But the budgets for these people are being strained far beyond what many of them can handle; you know that! The COLA should NOT be cut for this group, period! Think of the lady who retired 30 years ago on a meager pension, who is already struggling to put food on the table and pay her bills. How is she supposed to keep up? The COLA is the ONLY raise the pre-2000 retirees get!
And while we’re on the subject, it would not hurt the STRS Board to consider restoring the 3% COLA to the oldest and poorest (and probably the sickest) retirees among us. I would venture to guess even Scrooge would do that much if he were on this Board.
Lastly, I ask you not to even consider making equal cuts across-the-board. This would hurt thousands of retirees who are already hard-pressed to make ends meet while it would barely make a dent for those receiving the generous pensions that the pre-2000 retirees will never see. I see absolutely no justification for this, morally or otherwise.
Thank you.
Kathie Bracy
Columbus, OH
January 26, 2017
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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