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:
“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.”