Tuesday, April 12, 2022

OCPA praises Senators for rejecting scheme to boost politicians' retirement

I posted previously about the fiasco retirement bill passed by the House [Bad idea: State House votes to roll back pension reforms, return to same bad system that got into trouble]. OCPA slammed the measure late last week, saying “Oklahoma families face many real challenges today, but an insufficiently lavish retirement plan for politicians is not one of them.”

The disastrous measure was authored by State Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee), who also happens to be running for Congress. Frix has a history of pandering to government unions on this issue, and this vote coincides with the launch of his campaign for Congress. 

State Sen. Marty Quinn (R-Claremore), also running for Congress, rightly opposed Frix's bill language in committee. Read more:

OCPA praises Senators for rejecting retirement scheme

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 11, 2022)—Members of the Senate took a strong stand against legislative self-dealing today by rejecting a House effort to quietly boost retirement benefits for state politicians, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Jonathan Small said today.

“Today, members of the Senate put taxpayers ahead of their personal interests by rejecting an underhanded effort to boost legislative benefits in the name of ‘helping’ state employees,” Small said. “Oklahoma history books are littered with tales of past corruption. Oklahoma families can be thankful members of the Senate refused to participate in writing a new chapter.”

As passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives on March 24, House Bill 2486 eliminated a state defined-contribution retirement plan, similar to a 401(k) plan in the private sector, and instead placed most state government workers into a more-lucrative defined-benefit plan.

Members of the Oklahoma Legislature, including House members who voted for the bill, would have been shifted to the defined-benefit plan, which would provide a guaranteed, specified amount in retirement-benefit payments.

The change could have significantly boosted retirement benefits for many House lawmakers and followed a $12,000 pay raise provided to all state lawmakers that took effect in November 2020.

Current law mandates that any statewide elected official or legislator who assumes office after November 1, 2015, “shall become a participant in the defined contribution system” instead of the state’s prior defined-benefit plan. But page 37 of House Bill 2486, as passed by the House, would have repealed that language.

However, in the Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee, lawmakers voted to gut the House bill and effectively replaced it with a new measure. The new Senate version of the bill runs just 10 pages, compared to the 51-page version passed by the House. And the Senate bill simply increases the state employer match for all state workers’ retirement contributions.

Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, authored the new version that jettisoned the House language that significantly benefitted legislators. Several members of the committee also spoke publicly against the House language, including Sens. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore; Zack Taylor, R-Seminole; and Shane Jett, R-Shawnee.

The version of HB 2486 originally passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives represented a dramatic step backward from prior efforts to shore up state pensions and reduce taxpayer obligations.

The Legislature voted in 2014 to shift most new state government employees into the 401(k)-style retirement plan. The shift to a 401(k) plan was projected to save state taxpayers $3.8 billion over the next 30 years and significantly reduce the unfunded liabilities of Oklahoma state pension systems, which ranked among the worst in the country at that time.

“In attempting to boost their own retirement benefits, members of the House also voted to burden future generations with potentially billions more in unfunded liabilities,” Small said. “By rejecting that effort, senators have provided literal generational benefit, and they deserve the strongest praise.”

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is a free-market think tank that works to advance principles and policies that support free enterprise, limited government, individual initiative and personal responsibility.


Post a Comment

PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR NAME when commenting. Anonymous comments may be rejected if NOT accompanied by a name.

Comments are welcome, but remember - commenting on my blog is a privilege. Do not abuse that privilege, or your comment will be deleted.

Thank you for joining in the discussion at MuskogeePolitico.com! Your opinion is appreciated!