theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Local News

September 26, 2013

Group opposes additional changes to state pension plans

Ada —

     Oklahoma lawmakers should give previous efforts to revamp the state’s pension plans a chance to work instead of pursuing additional reforms, the president of an Oklahoma City firefighters union said Tuesday.

     “This urgency to continue this move toward trying to reform on a continual basis, year after year after year, without giving previous reforms an opportunity to work over time is a recipe for disaster,” said Phil Sipe, president of Oklahoma City Firefighters Local 157.

     Sipe is a member of Keep Oklahoma’s Promises, an organization that opposes additional changes to Oklahoma’s pension plans for state employees. The organization hosted a conference call for reporters and editors Tuesday.

 

Revamping the pension system

     Two years ago, the state’s pension system had an unfunded liability of approximately $16 billion. Lawmakers responded by approving measures that cut the unfunded liability by about 5 percent, reducing it to about $11 billion.

     Their work isn’t done yet.

     State leaders are considering options that will meet the demands of the modern workforce and satisfy the state’s interested in greater financial stability, said Rep. Randy McDaniel, an Oklahoma City Republican who heads the House Pension Oversight Committee. He said lawmakers are not considering any measures that would harm the current system, and they have not discussed privatizing state pension plans. 

     “My goal is, I want to improve the existing system we have as well as ensure investment product choices that are efficient and desirable for future employees,” McDaniel said Wednesday in a phone interview. “As a result, we will be looking at an existing program, such as SoonerSave, that has substantial assets and economies of scale that will benefit employees.”

     Lawmakers have already approved several measures aimed at reforming the pension system, including a 2013 bill that increased the years-of-service requirement for new firefighters from 20 to 22 years.

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