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ORTA stands ready to help!

Dean Dennis, ORTA President, addressed the STRS Ohio Retirement Board during Public Participation on April 18, 2024.

The STRS Ohio Watchdogs recently asked retirees to tell their story in 500 words or less about why they had to unretire. Here is the first submission:

“Without the promised COLA from STRS and increasing inflation, I was forced to go back to work to pay my bills.  I initially began using my savings to pay for the costs above what my pension covered but soon realized that it wouldn’t sustain me for long. It was at that point that I had to go back to work.  I never envisioned having to continue working, probably for the rest of my life, but that is the position I was put in by STRS when they broke their promise to their retirees.”

Retirees can no longer go without inflation protection. Since 2017, inflation has grown to nearly 27%, and this is compounded year over year. Retirees have only had 4% Simple COLA added to their retirement base. Since the Draconian COLA changes in 2012, nearly 50,000 retirees have died without seeing the inflation protection they and their families were promised upon retirement.

Where have STRS lobbyists been? It appears between our outside firm of Calfee, Halter, and Griswold and our internal lobbyist we have a half-dozen lobbyists and are spending easily between a quarter and half million dollars a year. How have members benefited from this annual spending?

In April of 2000, twenty-four years ago, Substitute Senate Bill 190 was signed into law. STRS supported this legislation. Within this legislation was a provision that made sure that retiree benefits were “increased to a minimum of 85% of the purchasing power of the original benefit based on changes in the Consumer Price Index. In twenty-four years we have gone from almost nobody being 15% below their purchasing power, to almost everyone being 15% to 30% below their original purchasing power.

Note, twenty-four years ago, our portfolio was 46% in Domestic Equities and 1% in Alternative Investments. Today, we are 26% in Domestic Equities, and 20% in Alternative Investments. We need another Senate Bill 190, an Employer Contribution Increase, and a revamping of our investments. ORTA stands ready to help!

Dean Dennis, 35 years Cincinnati Public Schools, President of ORTA, Founder of STRS Ohio Watchdogs, and Ohio STRS MOF member.

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