Pension Transparency as Elusive in Ohio as National Title for Buckeyes


The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Ohio taxpayers kick in about $4 billion a year for state and local government pensions. They may be asked to give an additional $325 million on top of that, too.

What do they get in return? Virtually no information at all about who's getting what, say The Cincinnati Enquirer:

They cannot find out how much individual public retirees receive.

Or how much workers and taxpayers paid toward their pension.

Or how many years they worked.

Or, in some cases, even who gets the benefits.

State law prevents Ohio's five public pension systems from disclosing many details about individual retirees….

State Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Jackson Township, questioned why the financial details are withheld. He serves on the Ohio Retirement Study Council, a group that provides oversight for the pension systems.

He noted that salaries of current public workers are available to taxpayers.

"Whatever the law is that pertains to active employees should also apply to retired, ex-employees," Schuring said. "Why shouldn't it?

Based on available data, nearly 10 percent of Ohio's public sector retirees are double-dippers, meaning they are back on a public-sector payroll. Starting in the 1970s, pensions became based on a employee's best years, rather than their last years, which led to widespread gaming of the system via jacked-up overtime, temporary promotions, etc. About 400,000 people are pulling public-sector pensions.

Pension formulas show that many public employees are able to retire after 39 years and within a few years begin receiving pension checks that are larger than the pay they received while working.

They also have health-care coverage, and many go back into the tight work force to earn additional income.

A newspaper examination shows that a rapidly growing number are qualifying for annual pensions in excess of $100,000. However, the average annual pension benefit ranges from $10,552 for SERS retirees to $38,555 for STRS retirees, according to the pension systems' financial reports.

Meanwhile, police and firefighters receive $36,243 and $34,710, respectively.

PERS retirees received $20,214 a year, and Highway Patrol retirees got $38,076.

More here.