Local & Regional
1:08 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

Pension Problems Review

Oklahoma City, OK – House Speaker Kris Steele today announced the membership of the select House oversight committee on pensions that will conduct all House interim studies on pension matters.

The announcement came as Oklahoma's recently enacted pension reforms received national attention at today's Southern Legislative Conference's annual meeting in Memphis, Tenn., where state Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Oklahoma City, was a featured speaker on the issue.

"Oklahoma's pioneering approach to pension reform is something other states should consider," said Steele, R-Shawnee, who attended today's conference in support of McDaniel. "Thanks to Rep. McDaniel's presentation today, legislators from other states have officially taken notice that we are doing something right in improving our pension system in Oklahoma."

McDaniel will serve as chairman of the House oversight committee on pensions. The committee will hear McDaniel's four interim studies on pensions, which will study how pension system investments have been handled, ways to continue reducing the unfunded liability and pension funding formulas.

"Improving the fiscal stability of our pension system is important because failing to do so would risk sending all of state government into fiscal disarray. I am pleased the House is continuing to rise to this challenge," Steele said.

McDaniel, who has nearly 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, said additional pension reforms are necessary.

"While the reforms accomplished last session were consequential, it is clear we still face considerable challenges. The large unfunded liability, workforce demographics, and financial constraints exemplify the need for future vigilance and reform," McDaniel said. "Nonetheless, based on the achievements of the past session, I am confident we can continue working together to improve the financial condition of the pension system."

Members of the House select oversight committee on pensions are

* Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Oklahoma City
* Rep. David Brumbaugh, R-Tulsa
* Rep. Corey Holland, R-Marlow
* Rep. Steve Martin, R-Bartlesville
* Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa
* Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Tuttle
* Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell
* Rep. Weldon Watson, R-Tulsa
* Rep. Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs
* Rep. R.C. Pruett, D-Antlers
* Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester
* Rep. Seneca Scott, D-Tulsa

McDaniel highlighted Oklahoma's 2011 pension reform accomplishments at today's Southern Legislative Conference meeting, which was attended by hundreds of legislators from other states.

At the start of the 2011 legislative session, Oklahoma's seven retirement systems had over a $16 billion unfunded liability compared to a $6 billion unfunded liability just a decade ago. As of last March, Oklahoma's 57 percent pension funding ratio was the third worst in the nation.

However, the reforms enacted by the Oklahoma Legislature this year will produce savings of nearly $7 billion over the next 30 years.

The major reforms enacted will require that cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) be fully funded when authorized and will increase retirement ages to reflect rising longevity.

"Oklahoma made noteworthy strides this year. Our efforts to shore up the state's pension plans are being recognized," McDaniel said. "I was honored to have the opportunity to discuss our approach with policymakers from across the country and look forward to continuing to work on this important issue."