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Don’t Delay Ohio Pension Reforms

August 1, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Ohio's five public employee retirement systems have a combined unfunded liability of more than $66 billion. That is more than $5,700 for each resident of the Buckeye State.

Officials of the funds, providing benefits for teachers, law enforcement officers, state agency employees and others, have devised proposals to get their finances back on even keels. Some of those ideas have been implemented but most require approval from the General Assembly.

State senators already have approved a package of bills meant to shore up the pension programs' long-term outlooks. But leaders in the state House of Representatives have hesitated, insisting they need more information.

Perhaps they are sincere in wanting to act only on the best available intelligence about the funds. Still, the timing is suspicious. At one point there was speculation House action might have to wait until after the November election.

That would be convenient for incumbent legislators who don't want to lose votes from tens of thousands of public employees who may be called upon to make sacrifices to get their pension programs in order.

Now, hearings on the issue have been scheduled in the House. They are to be held later this month, with the goal of getting the reform packages to votes by September.

Good. Every day that passes builds up new unfunded liabilities. Members of the House should approve reforms as quickly as possible.

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