Starting January 7th, 2012, Ohio’s five public pension systems will undergo a new set of policies that will allow them to remain solvent and sustainable for many years to come. The Ohio House convened last month to pass five bills, one for each of the pension systems. The governor also signed the bills into law shortly thereafter.

Although politics is often thought of as polarized and partisan, the pension reform bills were a great example of how Republicans and Democrats have worked together for a common goal. Since joining the Legislature, I have been impressed by how well the two sides have come together and passed important legislation to benefit Ohioans. In this case, more than 1.7 million public employees in the state will be impacted by the work that was done at the Statehouse.

All but one of the bills passed without a single “No” vote. The other bill had one “No” vote. That kind of unanimity does not occur unless both sides are included throughout the process. I give a lot of credit to Rep. Kirk Schuring of Canton for organizing the hearings and for ensuring that all legislators were given the opportunity to voice their input.

Separating the reforms into five separate bills allowed legislators and the pension systems to tailor each bill to their specific needs. However, the overarching theme of the bills was consistent. For instance, each bill requires public employees to pay a little more toward their retirement funds.

Additionally, the Ohio Retirement Study Council, which played a helpful role in moving the legislation forward, will be given greater oversight in the future. This oversight and review will be mostly geared toward assessing the changes that pension boards might make in coming years and the effects those changes may have on the pension systems.

Not only did the reforms win approval from both political parties, but they also were applauded by the individual pension systems themselves. We all agree these changes will result in long-term protection for Ohio’s public employees.


Post a Comment