A proposed travel policy that mimics the limits followed by Ohio’s four other public employee retirement systems was defeated on a 5-3 vote. Howell, Phillips, Moss, Madonna Faragher and the new board member voted against the policy while Beverly Woolridge, James Rossler and Nancy Edwards voted to adopt it.
“We’re not a cookie-cutter system. We can’t adapt to everyone else’s policy,” Moss said.
The Hawaii trip triggered a backlash from retirees, workers, the public and lawmakers.
Moss, Howell and Phillips did not show up as requested to an Ohio Retirement Study Council meeting to explain why they believe they need to go to Hawaii while none of the other four public pension systems are sending representatives.
SERS lobbyist Fred Mills said not showing up at the ORSC meeting was perceived as a snub and now lawmakers are considering installing travel restrictions in state law, changing the make-up of the SERS board or even merging the SERS system with another pension fund.
“I’m here to tell you the relationship and goodwill certainly have been damaged,” said Mills, who has worked in and around the General Assembly since 1967.
SERS represents 192,558 bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and retirees from Ohio schools. In the past four years, the pension fund has spent $241,391 for trustees to make 67 out-of-state trips to places such as Las Vegas, New York, Orlando and other vacation destinations.