House Democrats support firefighters' opposition to Oklahoma pension change

No legislation has been filed yet, but the governor and state treasurer support consolidating Oklahoma's several pension boards into one panel.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: March 22, 2013

House Democrats are joining Oklahoma firefighters in opposing efforts by Republican leaders to consolidate the staff, boards and offices of several pension plans into one.

No legislation has been filed, but the concept is backed by Gov. Mary Fallin and state Treasurer Ken Miller. Language to consolidate the pension commissions still could be placed this year in two empty, or shell, bills.

“We've got real concerns with the way they've gone after the pension systems,” House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said Thursday. “What we think that the ultimate goal there is to take folks who have true knowledge of the systems, who understand the systems and who are there to protect the systems and basically do away with those folks, and consolidate it under a small handful of folks who can then be persuaded to roll back benefits for firefighters, roll back benefits for teachers, roll back benefits for public employees.”

Oklahoma has seven pension plans, six of which have independent boards, staff, offices, consultants and investment managers.

About 220,000 employees and retirees are part of the state's pension system. Those covered include teachers, agency workers, police, troopers, firefighters and judges.

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