Monday, the Ohio Senate unveiled four pension reform legislation bills co-sponsored by Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) and Minority Leader Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati). The bill that addresses STRS Ohio's pension reform initiatives is Senate Bill 342. Click here to view the Pension Plan Reform Update document that contains details of the STRS Ohio plan to strengthen the financial condition of the retirement system.
At a hearing to introduce the bills on Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Niehaus thanked the pension systems for helping to advance the legislation. He thanked the co-sponsor noting "how important pension reform is for all members of the Senate," and added, "Protecting the retirement incomes and health benefits of public employees is not a partisan issue."
Later in the session, STRS Ohio Executive Director Michael Nehf, along with the executive directors of the School Employees Retirement System, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund provided testimony to the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee in support of the bill. Mr. Nehf's testimony acknowledged that "without changes, STRS Ohio will eventually be unable to pay benefits" and that "the State Teachers Retirement Board's action was taken to uphold its fiduciary duty to the members and retirees of our system." Furthermore, he stated that the "pension reform plan maintains a 1% employer contribution to the health care fund and allows the Retirement Board to continue working on a long-term strategic health care plan." Click here to view his complete testimony, which is also available on the STRS Ohio website.
Wednesday, the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee heard further testimony on the pension bills, including testimony from STRS Ohio constituents in support of S.B. 342. Ohio Senate leaders had previously told STRS Ohio that they wanted to see broad constituent support for the system's reform plan before taking action. Supporting testimony acknowledged that while the changes are difficult they are necessary to strengthen the financial condition of the retirement system.
Sen. Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park), committee chairman, has indicated there will be another Senate hearing on the pension reform legislation bills on Tuesday, May 15. STRS Ohio will continue to use its website, newsletters and email news service to provide timely updates about the progress of this important legislation.
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