In what was likely our final session day until later in the year, the House convened so that we could vote on some bills that will make needed reforms to Ohio’s public employee pension systems. Knowing that these systems would not remain solvent in the long-term, it took years to craft the right legislation.

Ohio is unique because, unlike other states, we have a total of five public pension systems. These are the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund, the School Employees Retirement System, the State Teachers Retirement System, the Public Employees Retirement System, and the State Highway Patrol Retirement System.

There are more than 1.7 million Ohioans who rely on these pension systems for when they retire, and that includes hundreds, if not thousands, within the 99th House District. In order for there to be enough funds for health care and for these retirees to receive their benefits, it was vital that legislation was passed to make each of the systems solvent for years to come.

Each pension system had its own bill, and I’m proud to say that all five of them passed with strong bipartisan support. In fact, there was only one vote against one of the five reform bills in the entire Ohio House. A lot of negotiation took place with all of the interested stakeholders to make the bills the best that they could be, and the passed legislation will not go into effect until January 7th of next year, that way our teachers, safety workers, and other public workers will have plenty of time to plan for their own retirements.

Through the reforms, each of the systems can reduce their unfunded liabilities so that they will have more stability and have adequate health care funds. The current and future retirees will be able to receive their benefits without any interruption. These changes will protect Ohio’s public employee retirees for years to come, and I’m very pleased that Republicans and Democrats were able to get the job done together.

Because of the open and cooperative nature of the process, smart changes were able to be made. These include adopting the suggestions of everyday Ohioans, including recommendations from an actuarial study carried out on the pension systems, as well as providing for the proper checks and balances when a pension board is changing the requirements and benefits of a system.

There were many hearings on various days and times so that the committees looking in-depth at the legislation could hear from all of the Ohioans who had a stake in the legislation. It was a very open process, and one that we should strive to have in every piece of legislation we pass.

One of the reasons I’m most proud of these reforms is because the process showed that men and women on both the Republican and Democrat sides of the aisle could work together and do what is right for the people of Ohio. Having a bipartisan bill after years of working to find a solution to this issue is extremely telling, and I am very proud that I was able to be one of the legislators that got the job done.

Our citizens desire the kind of cooperation that this bill received year-round, and I am constantly doing what I can to make this kind of unity a more permanent atmosphere in Columbus.


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