Sunday, May 15, 2011
SCHURING GETS HIS WAY ON RETIREMENT REVIEW. OUTCOME OF REFORM OF OHIO'S 5 RETIREMENT SYSTEMS COULD PLAY LARGE IN HIS LEGISLATIVE LONGEVITY. STATE SEN. OELSLAGER AS A MEMBER OF RETIREMENT STUDY COUNCIL COULD BE AFFECGTED TOO.
These are tough times in Ohio for anyone employed by government, especially state government. But Columbus-centered politicians are bringing local officials (city, village, city and board of education and the like) into the fray by affecting the relationship of local employees who get state benefits (e.g. retirement) in terms of pension contribution rates and such.
Moreover, the Republican Kasich administration has created a firestorm of controversy with it Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) which is configured to pretty much wipe out the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
In taking the SB 5 action, Kasich has created a political fight that appears to be a Republicans versus Democrats brouhaha (at least at the state level). The fight is going to be played out in an effort by opponents of SB 5 to get a referendum on the bill for this November's general election to have Kasich requested (passed by the Ohio General Assembly (OGA) and signed by the governor) set aside by the people of Ohio.
The only wrinkle which skews the Republican/Democrat thing somewhat is that the only unions known to frequently support Republicans (firefighters, police and teachers) are, in large part, joining Democrats to eliminate SB 5.
One such Republican is Carol Kinsey of Navarre. She is now retired from her job as an administrator at the Canton Professional Educators Association (CPEA - the union for Canton City Schools teachers). At last Monday's (May 9th) townhall meeting put on by state representative Christina Hagan at the Louisville Public Library, she spoke to another issue more completely tied to retirement than SB 5. The issue she addressed was House Bill 69 and Senate 3 (which are placement bills - that is to say not likely to be the actual bills to come out of the OGA, but merely designed to hold a place on the legislative agenda until a "ready to pass" bill can be cobbled together).
What is being worked on in these bills is an increase in the amount of the percentage that employees pay towards their own retirement plan (and whether or not the plan will migrate from "defined benefits" to "defined contributions"), how long they have to work in order to collect retirement benefits, the formula by which the amount of retirement is computed upon.
Also in these bills is language to exclude persons defined out of the plans altogether because their rate of compensation is not enough to qualify for eligibility. For example, township trustees of small townships are up in arms because of lot of them are expected to be read out of retirement benefits by the legislation being considered.
For Stark Countians this issue has particular significance because state Representative Kirk Schuring of Jackson Township (the 51st) is the chairman of the subcommittee of the Ohio House's Heath and Aging Committee (Retirement and Benefits).
Back to Kinsey.
One of the concerns of persons who will be affected by Retirement and Benefits work is that there will be a "rush to judgment" and that thorough consideration of reform of Ohio' five retirement systems will be short circuited by political considerations.
In this video, Kinsey reassures prospective retirees of these systems that Chairman Schuring is not about to be steamrolled into anything, to wit:
Will it appears that Schuring will not have to be quitting as chairman.
Today, the SCPR got a look at an e-mail from the STRS explaining that the legislation is being vetted by a study that will delay consideration of "ready to pass" legislation for some time. Here is the key language from the STRS missive:
Should the Kasich administration's coordinated effort with the OGA (on reforming retirement benefit) end up being unpopular with the Stark County's enrollees in the five state retirement systems, it could have devastating political consequences for both Schuring and Oelslager who combined have about 50 years service in the Ohio Legislature.
It will be interesting to see whether or not the two have the strength of legislative personality to save their own political hides.
The SCPR believes they do not. However, time will tell.