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Study Slams Ohio's Pension System

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A new study from an economically conservative think tank ranks Ohio 7th nationally in overall fiscal health – but it also put Ohio’s five pension systems second to last in the nation.

The study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University calculated the unfunded liabilities of the state’s pension systems as if they were bonds.

Lisa Morris with the School Employees Retirement System said that means a much lower return rate, when in fact the pension funds are large, global investors in more than just bonds. “And in fact over the 30 year period, our return has been over 9.3 percent,” Morris said.

But Greg Lawson with the conservative think tank the Buckeye Institute said taxpayers are at risk with public pension systems, and states should do as businesses have and abandon them. “So we have shifted to these things like the 401(k) and IRAs,” said Lawson. “But the public sector has not done that.”

States including Illinois and California have well-documented pension problems, but backers of Ohio’s pension system says it’s nothing like those.