A gathering of retired state employees convened to discuss issues of great importance. They had recently held meetings with State Senator Bergstrom, Senator Woods, and Senator Pemberton to address matters close to their hearts. These retirees were affiliated with the Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA), an organization steadfastly dedicated to improving the lives of both current and retired state employees, including members of the Retired State Fire Fighters Association and the Retired Teachers Association.
This meeting provided an opportunity for them to voice their concerns, aspirations, and dreams for a brighter future for those who had devoted their careers to public service.
OPEA’s mission has always been crystal clear: to advocate for enhancements in state employee compensation, benefits, and other legislative measures aimed at enhancing the overall work experience of state employees. This mission was underscored by discussions about several pivotal bills during the meeting.
One of the most crucial bills on the table was HB 1277, introduced by Speaker McCall, proposing a 2% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for retirees. It is imperative that we remember and support our state retirees.
HB 1290, another legislative proposal introduced by Speaker of the House Charles McCall, called for a 4% COLA. Additionally, discussions centered on the various state retirement systems, their current funding status, and their future outlook.
Representatives Wolfley and Montgomery presented HB 2020, a bill aimed at increasing the untaxed retirement income threshold from $10,000 to $20,000. This change would be highly beneficial for retirees.
HB 2171, put forward by Representatives Hilbert and Montgomery, focused on providing Inflation Relief Payments for Public Retirees, guaranteeing a minimum of $1,500 and a maximum of $3,200. During these discussions, retirees expressed their concerns about the impact of inflation on their fixed incomes and felt that their voices were heard.
Finally, Representatives Wallace and Thompson introduced HB 2854, advocating for a return to the Defined Benefit (DB) retirement system. They pointed out that state employees were the only public workers with 401k retirement plans, specifically Sooner Save and Pathfinder. Shifting back to the DB system would have minimal cost implications for the state and significantly increase total compensation for state employees by 10%.
Senators Bergstrom, Woods, and Pemberton had demonstrated their unwavering commitment to serving their constituents, even in retirement. The retirees were reassured that their concerns had been acknowledged and heard.
In the spirit of cooperation and progress, OPEA extends its heartfelt appreciation for its Coalition of Promises. The organization remains committed to advocating for the welfare of both active state employees and retirees.