Pension Reforms an Example of Bipartisanship

| September 13, 2012

Guest Column from Representative Brian Hill

We often hear in politics, particularly at the national level, about Republicans and Democrats not working together to address important issues. People don’t usually get to hear about the times when the two sides do come together and pass needed reforms. However, the Ohio House recently passed a series of reforms to the state’s public pension systems that had the cooperation of both sides.

Both Republicans and Democrats understood the necessity of reforming the systems in order to keep them solvent and to secure the retirements of Ohio’s more than 1.7 million public employees. To make sure that all interested parties and individuals had the opportunity to voice their opinion, each bill received nine committee hearings by the House Retirement and Pensions Subcommittee, as well as two by the House Health and Aging Committee. We also utilized a report issued by the Ohio Retirement Study Council that helped move the ball down the field on this issue.

The five bills—one for each of Ohio’s public pension systems—addressed the unfunded liabilities that each system was facing. The current format was unsustainable and would have collapsed upon itself had changes not been made. This is a problem that many states are currently forced to deal with, and I think the reforms that have passed through the Ohio House and Senate will help maintain the retirement systems.

The reforms include having public employees pay more into their retirement funds in order for the retirement systems to remain solvent for future generations. Additionally, the House instituted a provision that calls for the bipartisan Ohio Retirement Study Council—which issued the initial report—to study the impact of future changes made by the retirement boards.

From the beginning, this has been an open process with all sides having ample opportunities to offer their opinions and concerns. As a result, all five bills received overwhelming bipartisan support—all but one passed unanimously.

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