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OPERS responds to Wheeling Intelligencer editorials


July 14, 2011

Mr. Mike Myer
Executive Editor
The Wheeling Intelligencer
1500 Main Street
Wheeling, WV 26003

Dear Mr. Myer,

In your recent editorials “Verify Pension Reform Plans,” July 5 and “Control Ohio Pension Costs,” July 7, there is an overriding theme on which we agree – that pension plan legislation is necessary and essential. This issue has not been ignored by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.

The OPERS Board of Trustees has been advocating for meaningful pension plan changes for nearly two years. Our proposal includes increasing the minimum retirement age, lengthening the period used to calculate a final average salary, changing the benefit formula and tying cost of living adjustments to the Consumer Price Index for many future retirees.

As you noted, the Ohio Retirement Study Council is preparing to hire a third-party actuarial consultant to study the pension proposals of all five Ohio public pension systems in preparation for pension redesign legislation. We welcome the ORSC’s vigilance in overseeing Ohio’s five public pension plans, and we will work with the council in supporting a transparent process.

OPERS supports transparency and a review of our Board’s proposals. In fact, OPERS has budgeted more than $2.3 million this year to satisfy federal and state actuarial reporting requirements, including conducting a fiduciary audit, performing an annual pension valuation and contributing our share to the annual budget of the ORSC.

We disclose our pension obligations and funded status each year in our Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which is available on our website, www.opers.org. We conduct a complete review of our assumptions, such as wages and investment returns, every five years so we’re basing our actions on trends, not short-term market or demographic swings. And we review the effectiveness and efficiency of our system every 10 years.

OPERS plays a critical role in supporting the state of Ohio, infusing more than $6 billion dollars  last year into the state’s economy through benefit payments and investment in Ohio businesses.

We will continue working with the state administration and the Ohio General Assembly to enact meaningful pension plan changes for Ohio’s public employees.

Sincerely,
Karen A. Carraher
Interim Executive Director

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