Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Niehaus Announces Bipartisan Pension Reform Bills

(Columbus) - Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus and Senate Minority Leader Eric Kearney jointly announced today the bipartisan introduction of four landmark reform bills designed to stabilize Ohio's public employee pension systems. "This is about protecting the retirement benefits of more than 1.7 million Ohioans," said Niehaus. "It's also about ensuring the fiscal integrity of our state government so we can continue to position Ohio for job growth and economic development." Niehaus cited recent national news reports indicating a refusal by major corporations to expand or relocate in states burdened by multi-billion-dollar budget woes caused in part by massive pension debts. "Fortunately, Ohio's pension boards have managed their plans more responsibly than their counterparts in Illinois or California," he said. "But these systems are not without problems due to the demands of a growing retirement population, rising health care costs and a bad economy. Ohio must act now to address this threat of insolvency and avoid the long-term financial crisis emerging in other states." Ohio’s five pension systems have conducted mandatory accounting and performance audits that reveal the need for reform. Unless the General Assembly acts, the pension funds will fall short of meeting their 30-year solvency requirement. The teachers’ pension fund alone would need 38 years to do so. One of the largest funds, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, estimates that delaying reform costs their fund nearly $1 million a day. That same daily impact is nearly $2 million for the Ohio Police and Fire fund. And the State Employees Retirement System is losing $27 million in savings annually. "This looming insolvency not only threatens the health of the pension systems themselves but also jeopardizes many collateral benefits they provide to their retirees, such as health care," Niehaus said. "We cannot afford to wait any longer to fix this problem." The four bills introduced today reflect the board-approved plans for the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund (SB 340), School Employees Retirement System (SB 341), State Teachers Retirement System (SB 342) and Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (SB 343). The bipartisan agreement between Senators Niehaus and Kearney requires introduction of only the plans approved by the pension boards and supported by their respective stakeholders, including the labor unions that represent public employees.
PREDICTION: Democrats will eventually bail on this and demonize those evil Republicans for gutting the pension system because, let's face it, Republicans HATE state employees and want to see them all eating dog food as quickly as possible. Kearney will lead the charge and say the most obnoxious and toxic of the faux charges. I've seen this movie and I know how it ends.....