The Word - 2010/11/15

 

 

The Word from CSEA

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of November 15, 2010

CSEA ELECTIONS: ABSENTEE VOTING STILL AN OPTION

At today's CSEA faculty meeting, members were able to vote for the positions of President, Secretary, Treasurer, thirteen Association Representatives, and three delegates to the Representative Assembly.

Faculty who were unable to attend the CSEA meeting today can still request an absentee ballot by emailing Ingrid Emch (iemch@cscc.edu) by the end of the day Tuesday, November 16. Ballots must then be returned by 5 PM on Thursday, November 18, either by email to Ingrid (in which case your votes will not be anonymous, but will be kept confidential by her) or by returning it in a sealed envelope to Ingrid in NH 451, with your name clearly printed on the front of the sealed envelope so you can be recorded as having voted. For those faculty who return their absentee ballots in a sealed envelope, once you are marked down as having voted, your ballot will be removed from the envelope in the presence of all Nominations Committee members and, without being looked at, placed in a sealed box with the other ballots. All the ballots will then be tallied by the Nominations Committee.

Candidates for these positions include, for President: Jon Lundquist and Darrell Minor; for Secretary: T.J. Duda; for Treasurer: Rita Rice and Keith Sanders; for Association Representatives (thirteen to be elected): Steve Abbott, Judy Anderson, Beth Barnett, Crystal Clark, Terry Eisele, Lydia Gilmore, Jeff Gruber, Frankie Hale, Traci Haynes, Phil MacLean, Jackie Miller, Scott Millsap, Mark Mitchell, Keith Pepperell, Tina Perry, Kristin Ramsey, Dona Reaser, Gilberto Serrano, and Edgar Velez; and for delegates to the Representative Assembly (three to be elected): Mary Ann Canter, Eric Neubauer, and Joan Petrusky. We would like to thank all of these faculty for their interest and willingness to serve the college and their profession in these various roles.

We would like to especially thank Ingrid Emch (CSEA Parliamentarian), Sue Donahue, and Alesa Mansfield for their service on the CSEA Nominations Committee this year. Your time and effort in recruiting faculty to serve and overseeing the election is greatly appreciated!

RETIREMENT SYSTEM CHANGES: UPDATE

Over the last two years, board members from STRS (as well as Ohio's four other public pension plans) have been exploring possible changes to the plans in order to return to the state mandated 30-year funding period (i.e., being able to pay off the pension fund's accrued liabilities within a 30-year period). Prior to the 2008 market downturn, STRS had a funding period of 41.2 years, exceeding the state statute's 30-year maximum funding period. In a one-year period, from July 2008 through July 2009, the STRS funding period became "infinite", meaning STRS would eventually be unable to pay benefits.

Due to the urgency of the matter, the STRS board began exploring possible changes to the pension plans. In September 2009, the STRS board approved a plan that would bring the pension fund back down to a 33.4-year funding period. Some of the measures seemed draconian, however, and especially harmful to STRS members who would be retiring within the next several years. OEA and other interested parties objected to these aspects of the plan.

Since that time, OEA has worked with the STRS board to explore ways to make necessary changes to the pension plan (as required by state statute) without placing an undue portion of the burden on those nearing retirement. On October 15, 2010, the STRS board voted to approve the changes that OEA sought. The changes from the September 2009 plan that were approved last month include the following:

The original plan approved in September 2009 would have increased by 5 years the number of years of service required for retirement, effective August 1, 2015. In the past, STRS members could retire at any age with 30 years of service, at age 55 with 25 years of service, or at age 60 with 5 years of service. The September 2009 plan would have increased these to retiring at any age with 35 years of service, at age 60 with 30 years of service, or at age 65 with 5 years of service.

This change, in particular, would have created an undue burden to those STRS members who were planning on retiring shortly after the August 1, 2015 date the change would have been effective. Imagine starting your teaching career in September 1985, working 30 years until September 2015 with plans to retire, only to learn that you now must work 5 more years to get the same benefit you've planned on for the past 25 years. The new plan approved last month phases in the necessary increases in retirement age over an eight year period, with the number of years of service required increasing to 31 for those who retire between August 1, 2015 and July 31, 2017; increasing to 32 years for those who retire between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2019; increasing to 33 years for those who retire between August 1, 2019 and July 31, 2021; increasing to 34 years for those who retire between August 1, 2021 and July 31, 2023; and finally increasing to 35 years beginning August 1, 2023.

The original plan approved in September 2009 reduced the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for those who are already retired from 3% to 2% effective July 1, 2011, and would reduce the COLA for those who retire after July 1, 2011 from 3% to 1.5%. The new plan approved last month would reduce the COLA for those who are already retired and who retire after July 1, 2011 from 3% to 2%, but would require a 3-year waiting period to receive their first COLA for those who retire after July 1, 2011.

Finally, the original plan approved in September 2009 required the Final Average Salary (FAS) calculation to be based on the five highest years of earnings, instead of the three highest years of earnings as is done now. This would result in two more "lower" years being included in the computation of the FAS, resulting in an annual pension that would be less than it otherwise would be during each year of retirement. The new plan approved last month gives the retirement board the authority to adjust the FAS calculation to three, four, or five years as may be necessary based on the funding period at the time. This would begin on August 1, 2015.

These changes, though difficult, are necessary to maintain a defined benefit plan for STRS members. The plan approved by the STRS board last month has the united support of the STRS board and other interested parties, and now requires action by the Ohio legislature to approve changes to the plan. We will continue to keep you posted as necessary, including requesting you to write letters and/or make phone calls to legislators to ask for their support of reasonable changes to the pension plan.

NOMINATIONS SOUGHT FOR OHIO "FACULTY INNOVATORS AWARDS"

The University System of Ohio (USO) is seeking nominations for the third annual "Faculty Innovators Awards". These awards will recognize 10 faculty members and/or teams for work they have done to introduce digital course materials into the classroom, to enhance learning and to help make college textbooks more affordable for their students. It is part of the broad effort to encourage the creation of affordable, innovative instructional materials for students throughout the USO.

This year's nomination form, as well as information about the winners and innovations from 2009 and 2010, are available at Ohio Textbook HQ, an open forum for textbook solutions and discussion.

Nominations for Ohio's 2011 Faculty Innovator Awards must be received by the USO no later than noon on Tuesday, November 23.

FUNDING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION IN OHIO

We are all aware that the state has a budget gap that could approach $8.0 billion, and will need to be closed in the next biennial budget. The last biennial budget was balanced by delaying a planned 4.3% cut in personal state income taxes, but it seems far less likely that Governor-elect Kasich will take that approach to help close the gap. What is not yet clear is how much of a priority higher education will be for the incoming administration. There is little question that the projected state budget shortfall will result in cuts to most areas of state funding.

Nonetheless, the good news is that the last two state budgets, in which funding of higher education was a top priority, were a bipartisan effort requiring the support of Democratic Governor Strickland, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, and the Republican-controlled Senate. Members of both parties recognized the importance of higher education to the overall economy of the state, and funded it accordingly.

With more than a dozen new members joining the state legislature next year, it will be critical that they recognize how important adequate funding of higher education is. Unemployment in the state hovers around 10%. But if Ohio is in line with the national trend (and there's no reason to believe that it isn't), then the unemployment rate for those Ohioans who have a college education is around 5%, while the unemployment rate for those without a college education is about 13%. Furthermore, for those who become unemployed for whatever reason, the length of time they remain unemployed is generally longer for those without a college education. Finally, the income gap between the earnings of those with a college education vs. those without a college education continues to widen, and the income of those individuals who have a college education is significantly more than of those without a college education.

It goes without saying that employed people pay income taxes, they spend money and pay sales taxes, they pay into unemployment insurance rather than taking out from unemployment insurance, etc. An investment in higher education now pays long-term dividends toward the state revenue stream, and it is essential that our newly-elected legislators understand that higher education should not just be considered within the context of an education budget, but that it is a wise and necessary investment in the economic development of the state.


The Word is produced by the Communications Committee of the Columbus State Education Association. We welcome your comments, news, and insights.

Darrell Minor, President/ x5310
Kevin James, Vice-President / x5008
Judy Anderson, Secretary / x5453
Phil MacLean, Treasurer / x5308
Ingrid Emch, Parliamentarian-elect / x5824

Gil Feiertag, Senior Association Representative, Career & Technical / x5861
Health, Dental and Veterinary Technology
Allied Health

Steve Abbott, Senior Association Representative, Arts & Sciences / x5096
Business

T.J. Duda / x5309
Construction Science
Automotive
Engineering Technology

Gilberto Serrano / x3863
Mathematics

Beth Barnett / x2593
Hospitality, Massage Therapy and Sports & Exercise Studies

Bill Cook / x5364
Communications

Mort Javadi / x5635
Physical Sciences

Jackie Miller / x2601
Nursing & Related Services

Mark Mitchell / x3612
Justice & Safety

Keith Sanders/ x5288
Humanities

Mike Schumacher / 5482
Social Sciences
Psychology

Cindy Evans / x2435
Human Services

Dr. Antoinette Perkins / x5754
Marketing & Graphic Communication
Computer Information Technology

Eric Neubauer / x5698
English

Amy Brubaker / x5068
Developmental Education
Modern Languages

Dr. Sue Longenbaker / x2430
Biological Sciences


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