DON'T MENTION THAT PENSION
June 22, 2010
Despite spending more than $4 billion annually on state and local government pensions, Ohio taxpayers have little access to retirement records, says the Akron Beacon Journal.
They cannot find out how much they paid toward workers' pensions or how much taxpayer money a retiree receives. They can't know how well the pension systems track potential abuse, or worse, if they are being taken advantage of.
And state lawmakers are being asked to consider adjustments to those systems at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars a year without details being public, says the Beacon Journal:
- Ohioans now pay into a fund for benefits for nearly 400,000 public retirees.
- Yet state law prevents Ohio's five public pension systems from disclosing much about their retirement earnings.
"It's outrageous. That is not the kind of transparency that we need in government," said Matt Mayer, president of the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions in Columbus.
"These gold-plated pensions are one of the greatest drivers of public government, and if we can't determine how we are compensating these folks with taxpayer money, we can't fix the ever-increasing cost of government," Mayer said.
Ohio's pension systems date to 1920. In the beginning, financial records for individual retirees were considered public documents. But the state legislature moved to exempt them from public view in 1965 and 1976 -- just as it significantly improved benefits.
Source: Rick Armon, "Don't mention that pension," Akron Beacon Journal, June 20, 2010.
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