Government Spending

Pension Transparency as Elusive in Ohio as National Title for Buckeyes

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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.

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    1. What’s low on the sides and high in the middle? O-hi-O!

      1. It’s, “High in the middle and round on both ends.”

        1. Thanks for the correction. So I just invented a new version?

          1. I think I’ve heard your version before.

            1. But how are “Os” low?

              1. I guess it’s referring to the shape of the state – the middle of the state is taller than the sides. I dunno.

                1. Dude…LAME!

                2. “But how are ‘Os’ low?”
                  “I guess it’s referring to the shape of the state”

                  Or the IQ quotient. Hi-oooooh!

                  1. How is it low? Consider the sound of the phonemes. A hard “O” is considered a “low” sound. I give props to Warty, but I think the rest of you guys missed the boat. No offense, TAO.

  1. While I’m sympathetic to the tenor of the article, I don’t think receiving a pension after 39 years of paying into the system is gaming it. And while 65-70-year olds may be ‘double-dipping’ (in the sense that they’ve retired from one job but are now doing a new one) I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
    On the other hand, I’m not sure how someone arranges to get a pension that is more than 100% of previous real income. That’s dipping in a whole different sense…

  2. On the other hand, I’m not sure how someone arranges to get a pension that is more than 100% of previous real income.

    Step 1: The union negotiates a contract that bases your pension on just one year. “Management” agrees; why the hell not? Its not like its their money.

    Step 2: You work like crazy for one year, piling up the overtime pay.

    Step 3: Untold riches!

    1. See, many NYPD and NYFD in 2002…

      Can’t really blame them.

  3. And while 65-70-year olds may be ‘double-dipping’ (in the sense that they’ve retired from one job but are now doing a new one) I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

    Often, they are doing the same job, only getting paid twice as much.

    Theoretically, the state would have the same outlay, regardless – they are still on the hook for both the pension and the salary for the job.

    Still, something sticks in the craw when somebody can pocket $100,000 a year of taxpayer money for doing job X on Friday, and come back on Monday and get $200,00 a year of taxpayer money without even having to clean out their desk.

    1. I agree. DOD retirees do the same thing and it drives me nuts. It also produces a culture of gray beards in government. You end up with the same career bureaucrats in the same jobs for decades. If you go to any higher headquarters in the military and you will see tons of people in their fifties working second jobs after a DOD retirement. That doesn’t exactly create a culture of free thinking or flexibility.

      1. Heaven forbid we suggest cuts to the DoD budget, however.

        1. You’re not supporting our troops!!

        2. Of course we can cut DOD. We just can’t cut it 90% and prostrate ourselves before the world demanding forgivness for our evil ways like you would like us to.

          1. How about just 50% or so – so we’re only spending as much as the next top 4 nations combined?

  4. You don’t pay retirees a pension so that they hang around, you pay them a pension so they will go away.

    1. Darn tootin’! Unless you like our older stock. We’re are like cheese and wine, Sugar.

  5. Nick, you know this was actually an Akron Beacon-Journal report that the Enquirer reprinted, right? I got no skin in that game, but still…

    1. Ooh, a race to the bottom on that one. At least they didn’t reprint it from The Blade.

  6. My brother-in-law says this is a defined negotiated benefit and people who don’t like it are just jealous. Guess who he works for. He left the part out where those of us who don’t like it, are stuck paying for it.

    1. Defined benefit plans are Ponzi schemes, pure and simple. They should never be bailed out.

  7. You don’t pay retirees a pension so that they hang around, you pay them a pension so they will go away.

    I actually drafted a consulting agreement once that automatically terminated if the consultant ever set foot in the office.

    Good times. . . .

  8. The averages do not help much, because there are plenty of little old ladies out there like my grandmother, who are collecting tiny $5000-$10000/y pensions based on work they or their husbands did back in the 60s and 70s.

    It would be much more revealing to know what the average pension is for someone who retired last year.

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