When the interim study on state pensions is held October 16th, OPEA will have an opportunity to present its members’ views in front of the committee. The Association was requested to speak by Sen. Rick Brinkley, who is the study’s chair. Senate study 13-53 is to “study potential improvements to the state’s pension systems” and is one of several dealing with the issue of state employee and teacher retirement this year.
OPEA is pleased to be able to present because the issue of state pensions is critical as Oklahoma not only looks at retirement but also employee compensation. According to OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley, the state cannot look at one without examining the other.
“If we examine pension changes, the state must do so in terms of total employee compensation since the amount a retiree gets each month is based on how much they earned when they were working,” Zearley said. “Also, the average monthly amount an OPERS retiree gets is the lowest of all the state’s pension systems. We need to find a way to improve how much retirees receive and see how cost-of-living increases may be done when practical. But, we also need to ensure that the system paying the retirement of current retirees remains strong.”
“We appreciate Sen. Brinkley for reaching out to state employees through OPEA so they may be included in the pension reform discussion,” Zearley said. “We also thank Rep. Joe Dorman who included OPEA in an earlier meeting of another interim study.”
It is likely that legislation will be authored this next session to revise the pension systems. However, no details have been presented to what changes to the systems are to be requested. OPEA will continue to work to ensure that our members have a voice in pension and compensation talks.
Interim studies are conducted between legislative sessions as a way for legislators to “fact find” on various topics. They are often the first step in creating legislation for consideration during the legislative session. The pension study meeting will be Oct 16th at 9:30 a.m. in Room 419c in the capitol. These meetings are open to the public. OPEA will be covering the meeting and you can follow our Twitter feed @OklaPEA for updates during the meeting.]]>