State Employee Pension System To Discuss Changes With Legislature

Stock photo of a calculator reading the word "Pension" next to a pen
[bleakstar / Shutterstock]

Faced with a $24 billion shortfall of its total obligations, the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System will start conversations with the state legislature this week on cost of living adjustments.

"That is the highest in our history," said OPERS spokesman Mike Pramik. "That's kind of our first priority right now, is to reduce that unfunded liability."

Pramick says the OPERS board last week approved a two year freeze on cost of living for pensioners in 2022, which would save about $3.5 billion.

"We're going to now begin those conversations with the General Assembly to get this COLA (cost of living adjustment) provision written into a bill and getting it enacted," Pramik said.

Future adjustments could include raising the retirment age or health care adjustments, potentially moving pensioners to Obamacare marketplaces if they don't qualify for Medicare and providing money for premiums.

"Health care changes do not require approval of the legislature, but the COLA and certainly any creation of a new retirement tier would," Pramik said.

Pramik says the OPERS board would like to vote on adjustments for future employees by the end of the year, but did not have insight on when the legislature might act on the proposals.

OPERS represents 516,000 current and retired state employees and is the largest of five public employee pension systems in the state. 

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