Groups representing teachers, firefighters and prison workers have formed a coalition to fight a plan by the Legislature to make changes to Oklahoma's public retirement systems.
Members of "Keep Oklahoma's Promises" met Wednesday at the Capitol following a joint meeting of a House and Senate committee that is looking to shift newly hired state workers from a traditional defined benefit pension plan to more of a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.
A House member who is working to overhaul the state's pension systems is holding another legislative hearing this week to further discuss proposed changes to the retirement plans for various public workers.
Oklahoma City Republican state Rep. Randy McDaniel will convene a meeting Tuesday of the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee to review an analysis of the state's retirement systems.
Changes to Oklahoma's public pension systems in recent years have reduced their unfunded liability, but a state lawmaker says more changes are needed to assure their long-term financial health.
State Rep. Randy McDaniel of Edmond said Thursday the $11.6 billion unfunded liability of the state's pension systems poses a major financial challenge to state government. McDaniel says lawmakers must do more to secure retirement pensions for public employees because people are living longer and more people are receiving benefits.
With an unfunded liability among Oklahoma's seven major pension systems exceeding $11 billion, several Republican leaders have said changing from a traditional pension to a 401(k)-style retirement account for new state workers will be a top priority during the 2014 legislative session.
The unfunded liability is the amount owed to pensioners beyond what the system currently afford to pay. It has become a growing concern for Gov. Mary Fallin and other state leaders, who say it hinders the state's effort to improve its bond rating.
Gov. Mary Fallin has vetoed a bill that would have given state workers the option of enrolling in a defined contribution retirement plan similar to a 401(k).
The bill by Oklahoma City Republican Rep. Randy McDaniel that Fallin vetoed Friday would have allowed state employees hired after July 2014 to choose between a defined contribution option and the current defined benefit system. The bill was approved earlier this week by the House on a 72-20 vote.
Democrats in the House argued the bill would increase the risk involved in state workers' retirement years.