Thursday morning, OPEA Board Secretary Tricia Parker from the Oklahoma State and Education Employees Group Insurance Board, had the opportunity to sit down with Rep. Peterson and OPEA staff to discuss the benefit allowance issue. Rep. Peterson is the author of HB 3108, which would change the calculation of the state employee benefit allowance.
“Rep. Peterson was very open to our input and repeatedly said that he didn’t want state employees to be hurt,” said Parker.
Peterson told the group that his concept revolves around a “global package”, or total compensation. He wants state employees to have a compensation plan, both benefits and cash, that is closer to a business model.
Rep. Peterson said he envisioned a four or five year plan that brings state employees to market in total compensation. He said private sector employees don’t have a benefit allowance that is so generous. However, he also emphasized that private sector employers don’t let years pass without providing pay raises.
Rep. Peterson’s bill will be passed out of committee with the title struck, which is a procedural motion that indicates the bill is still a work in progress. He has assured the Association that he is open to input from OPEA on the bill.
“It is only the third week of session and we have a lot of negotiation ahead of us,” said Parker. “I believe the door is open for us to work through this issue with legislators and benefit state employees.”