Ohio’s largest public pension fund is asking state lawmakers to allow it to cut a future benefit increase for more than 200,000 retirees. And more changes could be coming.
The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, which is the nation's 11th largest, has voted to ask lawmakers for permission to freeze a cost of living adjustment in 2022 and 2023, and to delay that increase for all new retirees.
Michael Pramik of OPERS says that will eliminate $3.4 billion of a record high unfunded liability of $24 billion. Pramik says that’s the result of several down years for its investments and an increase in retirees who are also living longer.
And he says OPERS isn't alone: “Just look across the country and try to find a public pension fund that's increasing benefits right now. You’re just not going to find it.”
Ohio's second largest public pension fund, the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) announced a COLA suspension for three years starting in 2018.
Public pensions around the country are struggling with investment losses from the Great Recession, and the Pew Charitable Trusts reports many haven't made strides in improving their positions to withstand another recesssion.