At the Statehouse
Ohio legislative update: state budget bill progressing, turnover continues in the House and Senate
Substitute House Bill 166, the state biennial budget bill sponsored by Rep. Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton) continues to make its way through the legislative process. As of the writing of this report, a substitute version of the bill had recently been accepted by the Senate Finance Committee. The goal is to have the bill before the governor for his consideration within the next few weeks as the current biennium comes to a close on June 30, 2019. There are no provisions directly impacting the operations of STRS Ohio in the budget; however, the bill does contain language that would raise the state’s minimum teacher salary from $20,000 to $30,000. The House added that provision and, so far, the Senate has maintained it. STRS Ohio Governmental Relations staff will continue to monitor and report on any budget-related matters of interest to the system.
A former legislator and judge, Rep. Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland), has returned to the House. Rep. Grendell was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Sarah LaTourette who accepted an appointment by Gov. Mike DeWine to lead the Ohio Family and Children First organization. Rep. Grendell, who served the district in the 1990’s, is joined by other new members Gil Blair and Jeff LaRe, who replace Glenn Holmes and Tim Schaffer, respectively. Rep. Blair (D-Weathersfield) is a former municipal court prosecutor in Warren and Weathersfield Township Trustee. His predecessor, Mr. Holmes left the House to take an appointment by Gov. DeWine on the Ohio Parole Board. Rep. LaRe (R-Violet Township) worked most recently in the private sector but has experience as a corrections officer in the Fairfield County Sheriff’s office. He replaces Tim Schaffer who moved to fill a vacancy in the Senate. The House is expected to have at least one more departure this year. Rep. Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton) has announced his retirement effective July 31, 2019. The House Republican caucus is currently going through the process of selecting Rep. Arndt’s replacement.
Ohio Retirement Study Council navigates full June meeting agenda
The Ohio Retirement Study Council (ORSC) met on June 13 and efficiently worked through a busy agenda. The Council approved an ORSC budget for fiscal year 2020 that totals $788,800, a slight increase from last year. There is a carryover balance of $186,265.80 from fiscal year 2019, so the Council is requesting a total of $602,534.20. The ORSC is funded entirely by the five public pension funds, with each system paying a proportionate share based on assets. STRS Ohio’s share is 37.35% of the budget, which equates to a little more than $225,000.
Representatives from the Ohio Treasurer of State’s office provided the Council with information that included the RFP process for selecting the custodian of the retirement systems’ funds, recent improvements the office has made and future improvements the office plans to implement. The Treasurer’s office representatives said they are committed to working with the retirement systems as part of the selection process and improving communication to ensure the retirement systems have the opportunity to provide input before the final selection is made. Chairman Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) lauded the Treasurer’s office for their continuing improvements and commented that the legislature should consider codifying them in law.
View a report from the National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA) on reforms to public pension plans in progress around the country. We will include this report monthly as part of the Legislative News.