Pension Board Members Lower Travel Budget After Controversy Surfaced About Hawaii Trip

Pension board members have tightened travel budgets on its members.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the School Employees Retirement System has limited its budget to $6,000 annually for out-of-state travel after facing threats of legislative intervention.

The Dispatch reported that the board capped its budget at $8,000 annually in April, but lowered it after legislators on the Ohio Retirement Study Council urged the board to adopt a $6,000 per-member limit in May.

The Dispatch reported the budget cut will reduce travel spending by $18,000 per year.

The cuts come after three board members voted to attend a trip to Hawaii on the retirees’ dime in March.

The members, Mary Ann Howell, Catherine Moss and Barbra Phillips, said they decided to skip the May conference to avoid the perception that they were wasting money.

The trip was scheduled to cost members and retirees $12,000.

“The SERS board last year spent over $157,000 on travel and expenditures for board meetings, for travel to and from Columbus for board meetings and things,” State Representative Lynn Wachtmann said in March.

SERS is Ohio’s third largest public pension fund representing 190,000 members and retirees.

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