Response to Columbus Dispatch article ‘Educators Double Dip’

Posted on June 20, 2010 by


Written by Bill Yarbrough, Ohio State Senate Candidate, 3rd District

Dear Editor,

In the Dispatch cover story, “Educators Double Dip (June 20th),” I understand the topic of the story was the number of educators working and yet pulling a full pension.  However, it was striking to see only a passing reference to Ohio’s $40 billion of unfunded liabilities in the STRS pension fund.  And, STRS is not the only Ohio public pension system out of compliance with the law.

Public pension failure is a primary reason for California’s budget crisis and Ohio is not far behind.  It’s bad enough the governor’s bi-partisan committee to tackle the $8 billion budget deficit hasn’t even met yet after 11 months, but neither the Democrats nor Republicans have the courage to champion the efforts necessary to keep the state from further economic ruin at the hands of our insolvent pension systems. The Dispatch commented on this in an April 17th news article it proclaimed “Election Delaying Pension Reform.” Obviously, placating special interests in an election year is more important than doing the people’s work.

I am running for the State Senate because of this unconscionable malpractice in our state government.  I challenge my opponents and all candidates for the Ohio legislature to match my pledge to dramatically redesign public employee compensation systems as a part of a full-review of all state funding.   There must be a re-design and not simply increased financial responsibility for local school districts (read property taxes) as many have proposed.

It’s important to note that our educators bear no fault in this crisis.  They are in an honorable profession deserving of good compensation, and there is no shame in wanting the best the law will allow for them and their families.  This is a government-induced crisis – plain and simple.

Increase the retirement age for all public educators currently below age 45. Full pension eligibility should be delayed from the current age 52 until age 67 with pro-rated amounts not available before age 52 1/2. This should sound familiar to those of us subject to Social Security laws. Consider similar eligibility changes for all public employees; law enforcement and firefighters should be given due consideration to their unique physically demanding profession. Double-dipping should be prohibited – you get a salary or a pension, period. And, all public employees younger than age 35 need to be transitioned from a defined-benefit system to a defined-contribution system – just like most non-public employees in Ohio.  This will save the taxpayers billions of dollars, return the pension system to its original purpose of providing retirement security, and better ensure a solvent system for all public employees for years to come.

I doubt my honesty will earn an endorsement from Ohio’s union leadership, but every tax-paying Ohio citizen, union-employed or not, should demand such commonsense reform from their political candidates – and before the election, not after.

Bill Yarbrough
6300 Hilltop Trail Drive
New Albany, OH 43054
State Senate Candidate for Ohio’s 3rd District

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