Sears: Responsibly addressing pension reformWritten by Barbara Sears | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The years spent after retirement should be some of the most enjoyable years of a person’s life. But under Ohio’s current public pension system, the retirement of about 1.7 million Ohioans was not certain, particularly for future generations. Last week, the Ohio House passed a series of reforms that addressed the threat of insolvency and unsustainability the systems had been facing.
Through the findings of a report by the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC), the House moved forward on the Senate-passed bills in an open and bipartisan process. It made sense to me and my colleagues in the House to wait for the study to be released before passing legislation that impacts so many people. The ORSC report confirmed that the Senate bills were a good start, but that some further changes needed to be made. For instance, the Senate plan included provisions that allowed pension boards the unilateral authority to change pension requirements and benefits on demand.
However, the House felt it was appropriate to delay this authority by 180 days, during which the ORSC will study the potential impact of board authority and its alternatives. This provision will help protect the solvency of the pension system, making it easier for public employees to plan for their futures.
Ohio is unique in that it has five separate public pension systems, whereas most states have only one or two. That allows public employees in Ohio more flexibility in their retirement planning and is a reason why I believe Ohio has such great public workers. However, without reform, those retirement systems eventually would have collapsed, which would have obviously been devastating for so many hardworking Ohioans who had planned for years for their retirement.
This bipartisan plan also safeguards taxpayer dollars. One theme throughout each of the bills was asking public employees to contribute more toward their retirements, therefore restraining from having tax dollars pouring into a system that isn’t even sustainable.
I commend the members of the House and Senate, as well as all of those who testified on the issue. I believe the process was open from beginning to end, which resulted in good legislation that will ensure stable retirements for Ohio’s public employees for years to come.
District 46 Representative Barbara Sears may be reached by calling (614) 466-1731, emailing District46@ohr.state.oh.us, or writing to State Rep. Barbara Sears, 77 South High St., Columbus, Ohio 43215.
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