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Key board election could spur significant reform at Ohio State Teachers

Reinstating COLA, gutting investment staff and moving to index funds on the agenda.

Ohio State Teachers' Retirement System, Columbus, faces a key board election in the spring that could tilt the balance to a group of self-proclaimed reform trustees.

The reformers support restoring a permanent cost-of-living adjustment, funded by cost cutting, including a move to passive investing and significant cuts to the $90.1 billion plan's investment staff.

The reform trustees have been spurred on by a grassroots movement of retirees and active Ohio teachers angry about reduced or eliminated annual cost-of-living adjustments.

Rudy Fichtenbaum, one of the current reform trustees and retired professor of economics at Wright State University, said in an interview: "Members really feel that we're paying big bonuses to people to do investing and with really no path that we can see toward keeping those promises."

"One of the major issues that STRS faces is the problem of the cash outflows that we have but a lot of what people, I think, are very upset about is being told that everything is wonderful, everything is great, we're the best, there's nothing wrong and not admitting what people are feeling here," said Fichtenbaum.

Fichtenbaum said that participants' anger over reduced benefits is the issue, and that STRS has not prioritized restoring those benefits like he believes they should.

"We could do better with index investing although that alone is not likely at this point to solve our problem," said Fichtenbaum.



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