Secretary of State misleading voters on Issue 2

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I read with dismay the voters’ guide put out by the Secretary of State’s office for publication as voter information on the issues.

This is supposed to be a summary of each issue and a balanced, informed view of the position of each side. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this point for voting “yes” on Issue 2:

“Issue 2 asks government employees to make a fair contribution (10 percent) to their taxpayer funded retirement plans instead of requiring taxpayers to provide these pension benefits for free. Many private sector workers get no retirement benefits at all.”

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If I, as an information-seeking voter had read this, I would assume from that statement that public employees‚ retirement benefits are totally taxpayer funded with no cost to them at all.

This is not just misleading, it is a deliberate attempt to deceive voters about this issue.

I cannot address the benefits of police or firemen or nurses, but so far as teachers are concerned, I have retired after 30 years as a teacher  and can give a very informed opinion.

STRS is the Ohio State Teacher’s Retirement System, a trust fund that pays all benefits to teacher retirees. In Ohio, all teachers already must pay 10 percent of their salaries into STRS toward their retirement statewide.

All local boards pay 14 percent of their teachers’ payroll to STRS as a part of their pay and benefits package.

The rest of the money in that trust fund comes from the income earned by investing those funds.

No money for teacher retirement comes from Ohio’s general revenue fund.

Teachers must also pay for health care, with their cost negotiated locally as part of their salary and benefits package, or it was, until the passage of SB5 which is now Issue 2 on the ballot.

If this bill is not repealed, any real negotiation is a thing of the past.

Most retired teachers I know go back to work in some fashion, usually subbing, because health care for retired teachers is so expensive they have to continue working after retirement to pay for coverage.

Since teachers are already paying for health care and 10 percent of their salary is deducted for retirement, and the teacher’s retirement fund takes no money from Ohio’s General Fund and so does not impact the state budget, what is the real agenda of the supporters of Issue 2? Why is their advertising so deliberately deceptive?

If supporters of Issue 2 must sink to that level of deceit to get your vote, don’t you owe it to yourself and your community to find out why?

Please take the time to read the bill’s provisions and see what it is really all about.

Look beyond the sound bites and make yourself what politicians fear most, an informed voter.

Candace Picklesimer