OPERS responds to Columbus Dispatch editorial

May 5, 2011

Mr. Glenn Sheller
The Columbus Dispatch Editorial Page
34 S. Third St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Dear Mr. Sheller,

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System appreciates the consideration given by members of the Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee to remove the contribution rate shift from the Ohio budget bill.

The committee, as The Dispatch noted in its May 1 editorial, “Don’t balk,” decided to retain the current employer and employee contribution levels to OPERS and the other state pension systems.

As I mentioned to the committee in testimony, the rate change proposal would push our unfunded liabilities and amortization period beyond limits required by state law. I requested that if the proposal were to move forward, that it be included in pension reform legislation so it could undergo actuarial review and scrutiny by the Ohio Retirement Study Council.

There is one theme in your recent editorial which we agree is essential – that pension reform is necessary. OPERS has been advocating for meaningful pension plan changes since November 2009, when our Board of Trustees approved an alternative design plan. 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.

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 benefits and investment in Ohio businesses.

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

Karen A. Carraher
Interim Executive Director