Monday, July 20, 2009


The Stark County Political Report remembers when ENRON went belly up (2000/2001) and cost members of the Ohio State Teachers Retirement System $56.6 million. PERS lost $58.8 million.

One of the guardians of STRS and PERS was supposed to be state Senator Kirk Schuring (R - Jackson). At least that's what the SCPR thinks. Schuring gets very angry (which is rare for him), when yours truly makes this allegation.

Why does the SCPR assign Schuring the guardian role during the time the ENRON fiasco unfolded?

Because Senator Schuring was president of the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) at the time. And the SCPR believes the ORC failed many of Ohio's retired public employees in neglecting to uphold its obligations spelled out in Ohio Revised Code Chapter 717.

Now Schuring is vice chairman of the ORSC.

One has to wonder whether or not a repeat of ENRON is in the offing for Ohio's public employee retirees? If not, what has been done to prevent a repeat?

It would be reassuring for Ohio's public to hear from Senator Schuring that ORSC security is improved.

In 2009, it is not the private sector that bears watching. Now it is Ohio's government.

Governor Ted Strickland is desperate to have the money to keep Ohio going. Until the state budget god tight, Strickland was against expanding gambling in Ohio. But just days ago he signed an executive order command the Ohio Lottery Commission to begin installing slots at Ohio's racetracks.

Now comes word that he and the Ohio General Assembly took at look at "borrowing" money from PERS (Ohio's Public Employess Retirement System).

Although STRS (the State Teachers Retirement System) was not being eyed by the governor, his look at PERS was not lost on STRS:

Here is a few excepts from an e-mail that STRS sent out:
On June 19, 2009, Gov. Ted Strickland proposed that the state's contribution to public employees' pensions be reduced from 14 percent to 8 percent for two years, with a payback to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) to occur over the subsequent 10 years. This proposal was made as a way to help balance the state's budget.


While STRS Ohio and the other public pension systems in the state were not included in the proposal, the executive directors of STRS Ohio, School Employees Retirement System (SERS) and the Highway Patrol Retirement System sent a joint letter to the governor and the members of the Ohio General Assembly also voicing their opposition.


The proposal was eventually rejected by lawmakers and was not part of the state's final budget. Going forward, all the systems will need to be vigilant to ensure such proposals do not surface again.

How much would the proposed raid on PERS brought the governor in his frantic search for dollars?

Here is what Akron Beacon Journal Statehouse reporter Dennis Williard has to say (Scrutiny missing in state budget, July 19):
... Strickland's proposal to reduce the state's contribution to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System ... would have been a $250 million raid on the pension plan.
The SCPR believes Stark's public employees should heed STRS's warning. The questions that Stark County's public employees should be asking themselves should include:

"Do I want my pension fund to be making a ten year loan to the state of Ohio?

And, if not: "Can I trust my legislator to stop this from happening?"

Now that we know he uses The Repository opinion pages to explain his votes; perhaps, the good Senator Schuring would explain why public employment retirees have no worries about the security of their pension. Seeing as he is an expert of sorts on protecting public employees pension dollars.

And for good measure, maybe Oelslager, Slesnick, Okey, Snitchler and Schiavoni will chime in?

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