Lawmakers and retirement system leaders celebrated this month as Governor John Kasich signed five pension reform bills that were years in the making.  The five bills were a result of a bipartisan effort and were co-sponsored by Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) and Minority Leader Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati).  The bills included:

  • Senate Bill 340 for the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund (OP&F);
  • Senate Bill 341 for the School Employees Retirement System (SERS);
  • Senate Bill 342 for the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS);
  • Senate Bill 343 for the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS); and
  • Senate Bill 345 for the Highway Patrol Retirement System (HPRS).

The bills vary in their approach but generally aim to improve the finances of the systems with a combination of later retirement ages, requiring longer careers to qualify for full benefits, cost-of-living reductions and employee contribution.  Retirement system and legislative leaders alike highlighted how the legislation sets Ohio apart from other states where national attention has focused on strained state pension systems in places like California and Illinois.  The bills take effect Monday, January 7, 2013, except for provisions granting retirement system boards authority to make additional benefit changes if necessary, which are delayed six months to allow more study.