STUMP - Meep on public finance, pensions, mortality and more
STUMP - Death and Taxes
Public Pension Governance Drama in Ohio

Public Pension Governance Drama in Ohio

Expect more public pension drama as plans get squeezed by economic reality

Ohio State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) is having some drama, as a consulting firm has resigned due to power struggles between competing interests. The plan participants, whether current teachers or retirees, are angry about STRS investment staff getting bonuses while they do not get cost-of-living adjustments for retirement benefits. All of this while in an economic environment of high inflation… they aren’t the first and will not be the last.


Episode Links

Ohio STRS media coverage

1 May 2024, Pensions & Investment: Ohio State Teachers loses Aon as consultant amid board turmoil

Ohio State Teachers’ Retirement System, Columbus, has lost Aon as a governance consultant after the firm resigned from the assignment, according to people familiar with the matter.

The $94 billion pension fund’s board recently tilted to a majority of self-proclaimed reformers who want to gut investment staff and move the pension fund to all index funds, citing a desire to restore a permanent 3% cost-of-living adjustment.

At the April 18 board meeting, Trustee Wade Steen reclaimed his seat after the 10th District Court of Appeals earlier that day ruled that Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine did not have the authority in May 2023 to remove Steen as his appointed investment expert on the STRS board before the completion of his four-year term.

5 May 2024, Toledo Blade: Editorial: STRS got fired

The State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio needs a new fiduciary governance adviser. The $92 billion retirement fund for 500,000 Ohio teachers was effectively fired by Aon Fiduciary Services over the chaos on the STRS board.

When the 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that Gov. Mike DeWine acted outside his constitutional authority in firing his appointed investment expert Wade Steen, there suddenly was a 6-5 board majority in support of reforms first advocated by Mr. Steen.

STRS Board Chairman Dale Price, a Toledo Public School teacher, abruptly ended the April 18 meeting without the procedural norms of a motion to adjourn and a vote that supports the motion. The reform majority on the STRS Board was left to sputter in outrage as Mr. Price raced out of STRS headquarters.

April 2024: Ousted STRS member makes dramatic return to board, armed with court ruling

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The governor overstepped his authority when he removed a member of the state teacher pension board, a court has ruled. 

Ohio’s 10th District Court of Appeals sided with ousted State Teachers Retirement System investment expert Wade Steen on Thursday, ruling that Gov. Mike DeWine did not have the constitutional authority to remove Steen from his position on the pension board. The decision cements a magistrate’s recommendation that Steen be reinstated to the board to complete his term.


Steen’s presence on the board gave a faction of reformers a majority, allowing them to make desired changes to the state’s teacher retirement fund. But the board chairman called a sudden adjournment of the meeting and left, effectively ending it.

December 2023: Math doesn’t add up – Retired teachers denied 3% COLA increases while some STRS staff get huge bonuses

The images of smiling retired teachers on the screen painted a different picture than the reality faced by Kathy Foster, who retired after teaching 32 years in Findlay.

Despite promises from the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, Foster said she has received only one 3% raise since retiring 10 years ago.

“I got one cost of living wage,” said Foster, who lives in Wayne.

Meanwhile, the STRS investment staff has been handsomely rewarded for their work, she said.

“They have gotten millions of dollars in bonuses,” Foster said. “They lost billions of dollars last year, and they are still getting bonuses.”

“We haven’t gotten the money we were promised. I just want the 3% that I was promised,” she said.

STRS is not being good fiduciaries, said Foster, who in retirement has taken on a part-time job at the Wayne Public Library to make ends meet. “I’m not going to be able to work forever,” she said.

“They keep asking the members and the employers for even more,” while the system is spending money on the slick public relations blitz showing teachers seemingly thrilled with their retirement benefits, Foster said, shaking her head.

Public Plans Database: Ohio Teachers

All graphs sourced from the Public Plans Database

STRS 2022 Actuarial Valuation Report

STUMP - Meep on public finance, pensions, mortality and more is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

STUMP - Meep on public finance, pensions, mortality and more
STUMP - Death and Taxes
Meep (Mary Pat Campbell) talks about mortality trends and/or public finance issues, usually with a connection to current events.