The impression that a lot of people get about politics, from the media and elsewhere, is that Republicans and Democrats never get along and can’t agree on anything. While there are obviously differences between the two parties that sometimes lead to energized debate and sometimes stalemate, the idea of both sides sitting in their respective corners and refusing to cooperate simply is not true.

A great example of bipartisan compromise occurred last month during the passage of the state’s public employee pension reform bills. Addressing an issue that impacts 1.7 million public employees in Ohio requires that the two sides work together and do what is best for the state’s workers, as well as for the future solvency of these pension systems.

Following months of testimony, hearings and modifications made by each side, the House convened in September and passed five separate bills with overwhelming support. All but one of the bills passed unanimously. The open process allowed for everyone to voice their ideas and concerns, including the public pension systems themselves, all of whom applauded the finished product.

Facing public pension liabilities that were simply unsustainable, everyone understood that some difficult decisions needed to be made. For instance, the reform packages require public employees to pay a little more toward their retirement funds in order to avoid a situation where payouts exceed revenue. The Ohio Retirement Study Council was invaluable throughout the entire process, and it will continue to play a role in the future. Moving forward, the bipartisan council will study the impact that future changes made by the retirement boards will have on the solvency of the systems.

Keeping a tight handle on public finances is always important, but it is especially critical when dealing with a topic like pensions, which impacts thousands of Ohioans each year as they get out of public service and hope to enjoy their retirements. By working together, I believe successful in crafting legislation that addressed the realities facing our state and its pension systems, helping them remain solvent for many years to come.


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