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Retirees Association

State Legislature declines to approve changes to the COLA

From the the the Ohio Council of Higher Education Retirees (OCHER) meeting of  of March 27, 2018

This report is by Peggy Bott from the WSURA Board of Directors. She is the WSURA OPERS representative to OCHER.

The State Legislature did not approve the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) proposed changes to the Cost Of Living Adjustment in this session. This was largely due to the members letting their legislators know how opposed they were to the changes and this being an election year. However OPERS will probably submit the proposal again within the next few years since they still have unfunded liabilities.

By law, OPERS must be able to pay all liabilities within 30 years. As of December 31, 2016 actuarial valuation, OPERS is able to pay 80.1% of its pension liabilities or for about 24 years. According to Gordon Gatien, OPERS Director of External Relations, they will spend the next year or two educating their members on the need for changes to the COLA or other benefits to reduce the unfunded liability.

Health Care costs are 65% funded however there is no legal requirement that these be fully funded since there is no legislative requirement to provide health care. OPERS contributions to the Health Care fund ended in 2018. It is now funded only by employer contributions and returns from investments of the $12.6 billion Health Care Fund. While no changes are expected to Health Care, it is not unreasonable to expect there would be some if return on investments were low for a few years. Opers 2016 health care costs were $1.2 billion

OPERS paid $5 billion in pension benefits to Ohio residents in 2016, 90% of people receiving retirement benefits from OPERS live in Ohio.

It was also reported that OPERS is making many efforts to protect its database and members identity. No sensitive data leaves unencrypted.

The above information is a summary of reports from Michele Hobbs, OCHER OPERS Representative and Gordon Gatien, OPERS Director of External Relations