PERI is Preparing for the New Legislative Session of the General Assembly

PERI Dues Notices for 2019 Are in the Mail
December 11, 2018
Mahoning County Chapter 18 elects officers
January 16, 2019

PERI is Preparing for the New Legislative Session of the General Assembly

(January 9, 2019)  As we roll past 2018 and begin 2019, PERI is preparing itself for what will likely be another attempt to reduce retirees’ COLA in the Ohio General Assembly.  The 133rd session, which began several days ago, will initially focus on a variety of housekeeping chores now that a new Speaker and Senate President have been elected.  After a contentious battle over the past year, The House of Representatives selected a former speaker, Rep. Larry Householder (Glenford), to assume the post again.  The President from last session, Sen. Larry Obhof (Medina) was re-elected to serve in that position.

The first order of business in both chambers will be the selection of committee chairs and other routine business necessary to get the respective bodies up and running.  This process has already begun.  The major responsibility of the General Assembly between now and the end of June will be to pass a two year state budget.  Incoming Governor Mike DeWine will submit his proposed budget to the General Assembly no later than March 15th but more likely in late February.  It will be reviewed in great detail by first, the House and then the Senate.  Budgets notoriously go down to the last possible minute before a final version is approved by a conference committee of House and Senate members then sent to the Governor, typically on June 30th.  The state has no spending authority after that date without an approved two year budget.  While all this is going on, legislators in both the House and Senate will begin the process of introducing bills that will cover a variety of topics.

As you know, HB 413, which was introduced in late 2017, did not make it out of the House committee charged with hearing arguments for and against the legislation.  This was the bill OPERS supported that, among its several provisions, would have reduced pre-2013 retirees’ COLA to actual inflation up to a maximum of 2.5%.   PERI was opposed to this reduction and successfully lobbied to have it tabled in committee.  Since the bill effectively died when the last session of the General Assembly ended on December 31, 2018, it is almost a forgone conclusion that OPERS will return soon and ask the legislature to revisit the COLA reduction and other potential plan design changes to help improve OPERS’ funded status.

While we support OPERS’ desire to reduce its amortization period and improve its funded status, we strongly believe it can be accomplished by making plan design changes that do not impact those who have already retired.  We have reached out to OPERS to discuss this but have not heard from them for months regarding possible alternatives beyond the elements previously included in HB 413.  We understand that OPERS has been communicating to retirees that unless concessions are made to reduce or freeze the COLA, there will no longer be any contributions made to the healthcare fund which could lead to its insolvency within 12 years.  While PERI and OPERS both support the continuation of a meaningful healthcare benefit, we believe there are other ways to ensure sufficient future funding for both the pension and healthcare funds.  PERI will be prepared to discuss our thoughts with legislators if and when a bill is introduced to address OPERS funding issues.

We encourage all members to remain vigilant and be prepared to take action if it becomes necessary.  PERI will keep you informed of all important developments as this issue unfolds in 2019.

 

4 Comments

  1. Jerry M. says:

    I suspect Opers will make another attempt to cut retiree c.o.l.a. for those who retired pre-2013. Opers has already made reductions in healthcare coverage for 2019. With those reductions retirees healthcare costs rise. Retirees need to be on alert as we move forward in the event Opers makes another attempt to reduce retiree benefits. As a retiree, I no longer have any faith in Opers and I no longer trust Opers. Since Karen Carraher has been Exc. Dir. retirees have seen a reduction in benefits. I now feel Opers has become an adversary. I also feel the same as it pertains to the Opers board of trustees. It is sad that as a retiree that I feel this way. since the 2012 changes, Opers has continued to reduce benefits when they feel fit. This is true as it pertains to healthcare. This is also true based on the attempt by Opers to push H.B. 413 through the general assembly in 2017. Thank you P.E.R.I. for advocating for retirees. I have a feeling we will have to stand up and fight in 2019 and 2020. STAY ALERT!

  2. Jim says:

    Thank you, PERI. Please let me know who to write to or when we will picket OPERS. I will be there.

  3. Ginny says:

    It is disgraceful that OPERS will not even communicate with PERI on this issue. All PERI members must remain strong and vigilant with respect to OPERS trying to reduce our COLA, health care and perhaps even our pensions in the future. Thanks for your leadership PERI!

  4. Jerry M. says:

    To a certain degree, Opers aka Karen Carraher, is still feeling the sting when the general assembly shut down h.b. 413 last year. I am not shocked to hear that Opers aka Karen Carraher, has no desire to speak to retiree advocacy groups pertaining to c.o.l.a. cuts. They were blindsided by the pushback to H.B. 413. It has been arrogant presumption on the part of Opers that they can pursue changes to retiree benefits and retirees will fall right inline. Until h. b. 413 was introduced in 2017. That presumption came to an end. I understand we have a new General Assembly as of Jan. Opers also knows if they attempt another c.o.l.a. cut they will have another fight on their hands that may have to be resolved by the courts.

Leave a Reply

Rules for Posting on the PERI Website

  • This website and the opportunity to post replies to news stories is for the benefit of PERI and its members.
  • You must be a member in good standing of PERI in order to post content.
  • No profanity, disrespectful remarks, inaccurate information or other inappropriate content is allowed.
  • PERI reserves the right to manage content as it sees fit and at its sole discretion may determine that certain posters be banned from posting on this website.
  • PERI expects that any content submitted for posting will have been vetted by the writer for accuracy and be fact-based.  Let common sense and good judgment be your guide.
  • By submitting a post you agree to the terms and conditions above

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *