Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), chair of the House Health and Aging Subcommittee on Retirement and Pensions and member of the Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC), released the following statement to answer questions regarding pending legislation in the Ohio General Assembly on pension reform:

“In September of 2009, the five retirement systems came to the ORSC and offered their version of plans to reform their individual pension system. At that time, the leadership of the legislature and the governor’s office had a responsibility to initiate legislation to ensure the long-term predictability and stability of these funds. No legislation was ever introduced in the remaining 15 months of the last General Assembly nor was there any effort to measure the fiscal projections of the systems or review the cost of healthcare. Now, House Republicans under Speaker Batchelder, introduced legislation (HB 69) after just four weeks of being in the majority. House Republicans intend to not only work towards the long-term sustainability of our state’s pension systems, but also take the responsible course so that retirees are able to receive healthcare benefits throughout their retirement years.

“Recently, there have been public discussions about the continued need for pension reform and that the Ohio Senate may take action on this issue as early as next week, largely based on an alleged imminent threat to the healthcare benefits of retirees. Most importantly, it should be reiterated that the legislature has no jurisdiction over the healthcare benefits of retirees; only the retirement system boards can make adjustments to healthcare benefits. However, while moving forward now is well-intentioned, I believe doing so is premature until we have the results of the ORSC-authorized actuarial study.

“The ORSC has approved a comprehensive study of the pension systems which is currently underway with the report due this summer. The most prudent and deliberative course of action to sustain healthcare and pension benefits of retirees is to review the contents of the pending report and act accordingly; I sincerely hope my colleagues in the legislature agree.

“Current plans offered by the pension systems and supported by members of the Ohio Senate rely heavily on pension surpluses to pay for healthcare benefits, which have historically been how the programs operate. This is not viable; history has also shown that this operation will not sustain retiree healthcare benefits in the long run and we are confident that the pending report will demonstrate different paths forward towards long-term sustainability of the systems.

“I want to reassure public employees and retirees that House Republicans intend to work with all interested parties to ensure that any adjustments to the retirement system will be done prudently, responsibly, and with the ultimate goal of ensuring sustainability. I urge my colleagues in the legislature to be cautious before moving forward with legislation that will affect millions of public employees and retirees without having a thorough and comprehensive review of every alternative available to sustain the highest quality of benefits for public retirees.”


Anonymous said...

Dear Rep. Schuring..This piece of legislation is indeed important to our future ability to care for our health with limited financial resources. Again, the middle class are going to be the ones who suffer in the long run! It is scary to me that our health care will be determined by people who are for the most part who are insulated from the real world, are comfortable financially, unscurpulous and reckless with taxpayers money, and bend to private lobby self interests. Everyday we hear of our politicians, who are unethical and outrageous in behavior, and care only about being re-elected. It feels so helpless and hopeless! I don't like being this negative, but my trust level goes down every year as I get older and realize that our rep's both state and national think the average joe is uneducated and stupid. enuf said!

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