I write to respond to a posting on Facebook of a letter to the editor written by Michael Grashel. I don’t know if he has submitted this letter to you, but in case he has or does, I want to clarify the facts. I don’t know Mr. Grashel, and obviously, he doesn’t know me.
He refers to a bill that I introduced two years ago as evidence that I am a bad person who doesn’t care about people! Here are the facts: In the Aging and Long-term Care committee on which I serve, my sponsor testimony for that bill started out with this statement: “I was asked to introduce this legislation by Speaker ProTem Kirk Schuring to start a discussion. I equate introduction of this bill to how the biennium budget is introduced. In other words, this is the proposal from the OPERS Board. Now the ball is in our court! I look forward to hearing future testimony regarding this bill, both proponent and opponent…”
Back then, in an effort to strengthen the fund, OPERS had threatened to reduce the health insurance coverage for retirees, which it can do (and now has done) without the legislature’s vote. The bill would have enabled the extension of health benefits, in exchange for reducing the annual cost of living adjustment for certain retirees from a fixed three percent, to the actual CPI cost of living. This would have required a law change by the legislature.
I set out to gain input from the affected retirees. I reached out to the largest organized group of OPERS beneficiaries, called PERI. I met with PERI’s executive director several times. I attended the PERI statewide board of directors meeting. I also met with the Pickaway County chapter of PERI and the Fayette/Ross chapter as well. I believe anyone at any of these meetings will attest to my genuine interest in their wellbeing. The input I received was that the possibility of extended health benefits did not outweigh the reduction of a three percent COLA to the actual CPI. I withdrew my support for the bill and it never came to a vote in committee.
Mr Grashel also criticizes my endorsements, which include the Ohio Republican Party and many elected officials at all levels of government. He also infers that I am a career politician and that I have orchestrated a job swap. The truth: I have been a small business owner most of my adult life. The Ohio House of Representatives is the first elected position I have ever held. In Ohio we have eight-year term limits for all state level offices, a concept with which I agree. I did not plan to run for any other office until about six months ago when a number of Pickaway County residents, including Champ Henson and Jay Wippel, encouraged me to run for Commissioner.
Lastly, he questions my passion, my objectives, and my qualifications for the job of Pickaway County Commissioner. For these answers, I refer your readers to www.garyscherer.com
Thanks for the opportunity to set the record straight.
Gary Scherer, CPA
Member — Ohio House of Representatives