Fallin vetoes pension bill

A measure would have given some new Oklahoma employees the chance to choose between two retirement plans, but Gov. Mary Fallin said the measure didn't do enough to address the pension's $11.5 billion unfunded liability.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: May 10, 2013 at 9:27 pm •  Published: May 11, 2013
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Gov. Mary Fallin, still miffed that legislators this year didn't take up her proposal to consolidate the staff, boards and offices of several pension plans into one, vetoed a bill Friday that would have given some state employees the chance to choose between two retirement plans.

House Bill 2077 “qualifies as window dressing, not real reform,” said Alex Weintz, Fallin's communications director. It has negligible savings for state government and gives the false and damaging impression that significant action is being taken to address the state's unfunded liability. The governor looks forward to working with the Legislature to pursue significant pension reform measures in the future.”

Fallin, who asked lawmakers to consider changes to the pension system during her State of the State address that kicked off the legislation session in February, said the state spends $80 million to $100 million each year to administer the pensions, and that the pension system could have realized at least 15 percent savings by consolidating the plans.

“It certainly was disappointing for the governor,” Weintz said.

HB 2077 would have given employees whose pensions would be administered by the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System 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 had 90 days to make the decision, which would be final.

Current state employees would remain with the defined benefit plan.

Also, statewide elected officials or legislators whose first service as an elected official occurred on or after July 1, 2014, would have become a participant in the defined contribution system.

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