The Columbus Dispatch Publishes Article on HB 413

PERI Membership Card Update
February 13, 2018
Ohio’s Pension Systems Reap Substantial Investment Returns in 2017
February 28, 2018

The Columbus Dispatch Publishes Article on HB 413

(February 19, 2018)  A revealing article on the status of H.B. 413 was published in the Sunday edition of The Columbus Dispatch yesterday shedding light on where the bill stands in the legislative process.  It was authored by Dispatch reporter Catherine Candisky and can be read by copying and pasting this link in your web browser:   http://www.dispatch.com/news/20180217/opers-retirees-fight-back-against-proposed-cut-in-benefits.  It appears that in its present form the bill is not going to move toward passage in the Ohio House, according to its sponsor, Rep. Gary Scherer (R – Circleville).  This is good news for PERI members and all OPERS retirees.

Geoff Hetrick, PERI President & CEO, cautions members to remain vigilant and follow through with the association’s request to send letters and make phone calls to their elected representatives in the Ohio General Assembly.  “PERI members need to keep up the pressure by letting their senators and representatives know this is a flawed proposal and how it would adversely impact you and your family.  Many legislators do not realize the impact such a reduction will have on the quality of life of OPERS retirees and how the ever-increasing cost of health care has eroded the purchasing power of the current 3% fixed COLA.”

PERI resolves to keep up the fight against the passage of HB 413 until OPERS and the General Assembly recognize the need to maintain the current 3% COLA.

 

36 Comments

  1. Rick says:

    Thanks PERI, finally a ray of hope .

  2. Jerry M. says:

    Food for thought for all retirees, Keep contacting members of the general assembly to vote down h.b.413! Keep the heat on!

  3. Donna says:

    What is meant by, “It appears that in its present form the bill is not going to move toward passage in the Ohio House”? It sounds like good news at first, but the issue is not over. I’m very happy by this delay, but we still need to work to have it dropped altogether.

  4. Donna says:

    I have a question from the Columbus Dispatch article. Carrahar states, ” OPERS is no longer putting money into its retiree health-care plan. That fund has $12 billion, enough to remain solvent for an estimated 12 years.”

    Something seems very wrong here. With all the sweeping changes OPERS made since 2012, including dropping spouses and jacking up premiums, why aren’t they putting money into the health care plan? If the current administration can’t seem to manage our money, maybe it’s time to find others who will. This doesn’t add up and an independent investigation seems to be in order.

  5. Jerry M. says:

    I would like to share some info. with all retirees. i retired from O.D.O.T. in 2012. When i worked for O.D.O.T. I was active in o.c.s.e.a. for a time. O.c.s.e.a. is the union for state employees in most agencies. When opers introduced their c.o.l.a. reduction fiasco last august, I contacted Chris Mabe who is o.c.s.e.a. president and opers board member for state employees. As per the conversation, The reasons he gave me for the proposal were as follows. The alleged 2 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities as per Karen Carraher. Mabe also gave me a personal reason for the proposal. Mabe told me he thinks it is not fair that people who retired prior to Jan. 2013 keep their 3% C.O.L.A. And people who retired after Jan. 2013 get their c.o.l.a. adjusted as agreed upon in the 2012 opers changes. So with this info. you have an opers board member who also had personal reasons for pushing this proposal. I spoke to Chris Mabe over the phone in late august of 2017. He returned the phone call after I left him a message on his voicemail. I also emailed him at that time.

    • Daniel says:

      Well what everyone has to remember is if your already retired you have no way to increase your percent of retirement other than the COLA. If your not already retired you have the option to work longer and increase your retirement. “ Go figure “ Compell people who can retire before 2013 by sending out papers that say anyone who retires prior to 2013 will recieve 3 % COLA fixed ,then switch it with H.B. 413 COLA based off cpi after. People already retired don’t have an equal right to work longer and boost there percentage and increase there F.A.S. I believe PERI was able to exspress that concern during there presentation in Opposition of H.B 413.

    • Dean says:

      Ron Alexander is a candidate for OPERS Trustee to represent the retirees. He is also the retiree representative on the OCSEA Board with Mabe. I have emailed Ron Alexander requesting his position on this issue. We certainly don’t need two OSCEA officials on the OPERS Board voting together to cut our COLA.

  6. Jerry M. says:

    More food for thought. Late last December, The Opers board voted to make Chris Mabe Vice Chair!

  7. Retiree says:

    So I just read the Dispatch article and here’s what bothers me. It is clear that Karen Carraher is trying to play on the fear that If we don’t make these changes now we risk healthcare in the future. What I urge everyone to consider is that regardless of whether they make changes or not we could still lose or have changes made to our healthcare in the future. Healthcare is not a guaranteed benefit. I for one will not stand for changes being made to a guaranteed benefit, which my 3% annual COLA is, to take the chance that they won’t turn around at some point in the future and reduce or eliminate healthcare anyway. I won’t fall for their scare tactics.

    • Donna says:

      Retiree – I totally agree. I will not stand for changes to a guaranteed benefit either. If they take that away, then everything is fair game.

  8. Ginny says:

    The article in the Columbus Dispatch was an interesting read. Keep up the good work, PERI!

  9. Len says:

    Although this is encouraging we can’t let up. I have written to my State Representative and Senator and have received a response only from my Representative that he is opposed to HB 413. So far my state Senator seems to be non-committed.

    Remember the old adage “the squeeky wheel gets the grease”.

  10. Donna says:

    Jerry – That is very interesting. I have long suspected a severe case of COLA envy has been going around at OPERS. And yes, I believe those pushing the proposal have a personal agenda. Otherwise, nothing else makes sense. The system is healthy and with the sweeping changes made including dropping spouses and jacking up our health care premiums, there should be no reason for fear of losing health care funding.

    As the old adage goes, when something doesn’t make sense, look for the dollars.

  11. James says:

    Indeed, let’s keep the wagons circled around our deserved C.O.L.A., because another attempted dismantling will begin in the not too distant future. There is an upcoming Special Election for a Retiree Representative on the O.P.E.R.S. Board , so I strongly urge retirees to review the three candidates’ credentials. Two of them appear to strongly support our C.O.L.A., as is, one not so much. We don’t want another turncoat like Mabe to get elected. Remember too, the genesis of H.B. 413 was the G.O.P. majority in the State Legislature. Keep that in mind when you cast your votes in the mid-term elections. Moreover, the Governor appoints the Investment Expert. Do we really want the hedge funds investments, with the high fees/low returns, to continue? And, if you can afford to do so, please consider making a donation to P.E.R.I., so they can continue to fight the good fight, on our behalf. In solidarity ~

    • Dean says:

      Where did you obtain information on the 3 candidates and their positions?

      • James says:

        Dean, go to OPERS/Special Election. The candidate’s respective views can be found there. Btw, after reading the recent comments about Mr. Alexander, and how he’s joined at the hip with the fork tongue speaking, back stabbing Mabe…. voting for him is not an option…. period! That said, I have had constructive correspondences with candidate Tim Steitz, via email, and I came away most impressed with his assurances , chief among them, that: 1) he will be an untiring advocate for the preservation of our COLA and is unequivocally opposed to HB 413, or the like. 2) furthermore, he strongly opposes hedge funds in the OPERS investment portfolio, due to their low returns/high fees. Mr. Steitz appears to be a committed, competent professional, who, I believe, would be a splendid addition to the OPERS Board of Trustees. With all due respect to Ms. Powell, I will be casting my vote for Mr. Timothy C. Steitz, and I strongly urge my fellow retirees to do likewise. In solidarity ~

        • Gary says:

          Thanks James for your insight. I agree after reading the Retiree Representative Candidate Biographies page included with my ballot, it becomes clear that Timothy Steitz is the correct choice if you want to protect your 3% COLA. His job experience and credentials make him the most qualified candidate to oppose Carraher’s dirty mess now and in the future. It’s important for anyone who hasn’t voted yet to do it now before the March 30th deadline and keep contacting our state legislative officials.

  12. Michael Roberts says:

    Every day I e-mail, tweet, call or write. I point out the 50 people at OPERS making more than the governor, the billions invested in poor performing hedge funds, the most of any State and paying the managers of those hedge funds billions since 2011 and also paying their own chief financial officer over 1/2 million a year and millions more in incentives. Incentives for what, to invest in poor performing hedge funds or does he get incentives for cutting our COLA. Kasich was with Lehman Brothers and went around Ohio talking the public pensions into investing in Lehman Brothers. Lehman went out of business and the pensions lost multi millions. He becomes governor in 2011 along with Carrahar and we start investing in hedge funds. Funny hedge funds donated to his run for President in 2016.

    This cozy relationship the OPERS seems to have with some of the medical providers needs to be looked at. Double Dipping needs to be looked at, California does not allow it at all, go back to a public employee and your pension stops. I don’t know if we need to go that far, but the amount they pay in for pension goes into an annuity. That money should stay in the pension system, they are already collecting a pension and working for a public employee. QEBA needs stopped, violating IRS rules stating that they don’t have to pay pension out over around 215,000 per year. QEBA makes that extra money come out of the medical fund. I could go on for pages, however, that is some thing needing fixed.

    Keep writing as the State and every organization in it hates the sun light shine down upon them. When I worked I was told to work on clients that bitched first. Why should they get serviced first? The answer, we don’t want to have them calling every day and bothering us. Is that fair, no, but the squeaking wheel gets fixed first.

    • Donna says:

      Michael – Could you share copies of your letters? I don’t know the facts like you do. I would like to send that information to my representatives too.

  13. Dale L Harmon says:

    First, the “3% COLA” quit being a 3% increase in retirement benefits one year after retirement. It is a simple interest increase on the base retirement amount. It is NOT a true cost of living increase. Rather it is: 3%, 2.91%, 2.83%, 2.75%, 2.68%, 2.61%, 2.54%, etc. Next year I will get a 2.4% increase. We retirees who retired prior to 2013 are both diminishing in both numbers and our effective COLA increases. The only reason that I can see for the OPERS board to act now is because it will become a moot point in a the future. They want to treat retirees as welfare recipients. Why else would HB 413 contain a provision to INCREASE the retirement for a select few retirees?

    Second, as determined in the case of John J. MASCIO v. PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM OF OHIO, the vested rights statute (ORC 145.561), once the conditions of retirement are fulfilled, there is a contractual obligation. The Ohio Legislature (OPERS) does NOT have a legal right to alter a contract after the fact.

    Third, why the heck would any rational person (retiree) wish to trade a statutory guaranteed contractual right (pension + COLA) for the “promise” of health care? Back when I was working, 35 years, a percentage of my contribution was going for the health care of retirees. Now that I am retired, the OPERS board has cut health care to the bone and is out to get retirees who may have gotten a few percent ahead of inflation.

    Finally, I’m not trying to be political but the Federal deficit spending is such that the ten year Treasury rate is approaching 3%. Depending on the financial projection, 3% or 3.5%, is the break point at which money flows from the stock market to bonds and inflation becomes inevitable. Either way, a one trillion dollar Federal deficit will lead to higher inflation. That higher inflation will inflate OPERS investments, but will not change our COLA.

  14. Jerry M. says:

    Dean you just made a fantastic point, Retirees do not need Ron Alexander on the Opers board to represent retirees. Ron Alexander will be a yes person for Karen Carraher. Chris Mabe has proved he is a yes person for Karen Carraher! Retirees please consider not giving Ron Alexander a vote! I hope Alexander has an opponent for this board seat! If Ron Alexander has an opponent, Please consider that person! Ron Alexander is still on the O.C.S.E.A. payroll as an retirees Rep. He has taken enough dues money as o.c.s.e.a. president and now in this role as a retirees rep! I was an o.c.s.e.a. activist for a time. The internal politics at o.c.s.e.a. is sickening! Just food for thought. Thanks.

  15. Jerry M. says:

    I witnessed Ron Alexander manipulate the members and staff at o.c.s.e.a. for years! Please consider not voting for him for this open opers board seat! Please consider the opponents of Ron Alexander for this opers board seat! To vote Ron Alexander on the opers board would be a huge mistake. Remember, Chris Mabe will be lobbying on his behalf. And in private, I am sure Karen Carraher will be doing the same. She will be very quiet in doing so.

  16. Jim says:

    I’ll keep writing and making phone calls until there is a full administration restructuring at OPERS.

  17. lucieariston says:

    Thanksa lot for the article post.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

  18. Jerry M. says:

    Attention all retirees, I have taken a careful look at all the candidates for the open Opers board seat. I will vote for Tim Steitz, He seems to be the candidate that will stand up for retirees. Just food for thought. Vote carefully.

  19. Frank Zangara says:

    If you worked when Ron Alexander was head of the union… you know he was very friendly to the statehouse. Personally I believe that the State of Ohio employees did benefit from collective bargaining I am just saying that was not while Ron Alexander was running things he was very close fo to management we do not need his self serving agenda in our retirement. Most people do not realize that public sector is not always the easy jobs they think. Too many managers politically connected (and union presidents) willing to do whatever necessary for their own personal advancement . But I thought once retired we would be away from the politics and the deals made in back rooms. Karen Carraher does not have enough respect for retirees to keep her as OPERS Ex Director. She wants to say that she has OPERS funded 100% and will do so at any cost. Keep fighting calling writing and unfortunately not relaxing and enjoying our earned retirements. Ohio politics once again rears its ugly head. We are fortunate that some in the statehouse see OPERS bill for what it is…. an unnecessary broken promise to retirees. Don’t stop being vocal, writing and calling state reps and telling them OPERS needs to keep their gritty hands off of our COLA.

  20. Sue says:

    Hi. Not sure if anyone thinks it might be helpful but when I retired in 2012, I noted in my retirement letter that one reason was to avoid the changes. If the cola change ends up in the court, maybe it would help. Let me know, via this blog. Thanks

    • Retiree says:

      I noted it in my retirement letter as well. Actually I stated that it was “the” reason for the timing.

  21. Jerry M. says:

    Amen Frank! It is time retirees post their concerns about Ron Alexander on social media. All retirees should know about the troublesome background of Mr. Alexander! Also, It is time retirees start calling for Karen Carraher to be replaced! Start sounding the alarm on social media!

  22. Jerry M. says:

    Chris Mabe is just as bad as Ron Alexander if not worse!

  23. David says:

    I’m with those who will vote for Tim Seitz as my candidate of choice. Thanks to those you who shared your views on all three candidates. Your comments were really helpful.

  24. Michael Roberts says:

    I voted for Mr. Seitz also.

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