First Pension Study Meeting Held At Capitol

The 2013 Oklahoma legislative session ended with no changes to the state’s pension systems being enacted but an interim study on pensions once again brought the topic up for discussion. The first meeting of the study was held Thursday, Sept 19 with follow-up meetings scheduled for later this fall. This meeting combined studies by Rep. Randy McDaniel, Rep. Joe Dorman and Rep. Donnie Condit to look the current retirement system as well as how the state’s pension funds are managed.

This meeting provided an overview of the current systems with several of the pension funds’ administrators providing an update about their pensions and the retirees served by the systems. The legislators also heard from stakeholder groups like OPEA, firefighters and teachers.

Sterling Zearley

No proposed changes were initiated at the meeting, however, Rep. McDaniel did discuss his concerns about funds that are currently funded well below their obligations and that this needed to be improved for the overall health of the systems and for the state’s economy. It is possible that Rep. McDaniel will author legislation changing the OPERS retirement system as he did last year with a bill creating an optional defined contribution pension system for state employees.

At the interim study, OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley was asked by Rep. Dorman to present on behalf of the OPEA members. Zearley told the panel that the state must first take care of the problem of low state employee pay before enacting pension changes. This is critical because pension contributions are based on employee pay and many state employees’ salaries are not sufficient to provide for a livable pension.

OPEA looks forward to participating in future compensation discussions and will update members on future developments. It is important that members state informed and engaged with lawmakers on all of the compensation issues that will be raised during the next legislative session.


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