New pension plan for some Oklahoma state workers heads to Gov. Mary Fallin

Future Oklahoma state employees would have the option of selecting a defined contribution plan, similar to what is offered by most companies, instead of the traditional defined benefit plan.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: May 8, 2013

New state employees next year whose pensions are administered by the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System would be able to choose between two types of retirement plans if a measure that won final legislative approval Tuesday is signed into law.

House Bill 2077 would give employees the option of a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k) plan, instead of the defined benefit plan, which is a traditional pension. New employees hired after July 1, 2014, would have 90 days to make the decision, which would be final.

Current state employees would remain with the defined benefit plan.

A statewide elected official or legislator whose first service as an elected official occurs on or after July 1, 2014, shall become a participant in the defined contribution system, according to the measure.

The House of Representatives voted 72-20 to pass the measure. It now goes to the governor.

In addition to most state agency employees, most county workers as well as some city employees also have their pensions administered by the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System.

About 41,000 employees now pay into the retirement system to receive monthly pensions through a defined benefit plan based on a formula that takes into account their salary and duration of government work.

Under HB 2077, new employees under the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System would have the option of taking part in a defined contribution plan, which would provide employees with a payout when they retire based on the amount of money contributed and investment gains or losses.