Nearly 100 people gathered for a town hall meeting and chili supper in Norman recently to talk about OPEA and its plans for the upcoming legislative session.
Long-time board member Dixie Jackson organized the event and served as emcee. Guests included state representatives Lisa Billy, Scott Martin, Bill Nations and Wallace Collins.
Representative Billy is the author of OPEA’s bill to double longevity and provide future increases by linking it to the Consumer Price Index.
“I remember when my mother got her longevity check,” Billy said. “It was important to the family. I know times are tight, but if we don’t start somewhere, we will get nowhere.”
Representative Martin is the author of legislation raising the amount the state pays toward SoonerSave from $25 to $60 a month.
“I appreciate OPEA’s support in my last election,” he said. “I am proud to be the author of legislation to double the state SoonerSave match and improve the state employee benefit package,” Martin said.
With the economic downturn and possible budget shortfall, OPEA members asked the panel if they would tap the Rainy day fund for a state employee pay raise or bonus. Collins and Nations support the proposal, but Martin and Billy urged caution.
“I will support using Rainy Day funds to save state jobs or prevent furloughs,” Billy said. “That should be our first priority.”
All legislators on the panel voiced their support of a COLA for retirees this year, and leaving election year politics out of the process.