$15.1 million was appropriated to enhance the compensation package for state employees. The two-pronged package provides the average state employee with compensation of up to $600 more in FY'98, much of it pre-tax:
HB 1224 provides the first-ever statewide severance package for state employees who lose their jobs through a reduction-in-force (RIF). The bill provides for mandatory and optional severance benefits. State agencies are required to provide RIFed employees 180 days of health care coverage or the cash equivalent, a full year of longevity pay, and out-placement services. Agencies are given the option of providing additional benefits, including lump sum payments, pay for unused sick leave, extra retirement credits and educational vouchers.
SB 354 allows retirees from all public retirement systems to maintain higher state life insurance policies. Under current law, retirees are eligible for a maximum of $15,000 in basic life coverage. Under SB 354, they may continue basic coverage at ($20,000) at an actuarially adjusted rate.
$9.8 million was provided for a graduated retirement stipend for members of the Oklahoma Public Employee Retirement System, Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System, Oklahoma Police Pension Retirement System and Oklahoma Firefighters Retirement System. Note, volunteer firefighters will receive one-half of the stipend amount. In addition, Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System retirees will receive a $1,000 increase in death benefits.
HB 1221 prohibits the Oklahoma State and Education Employees Group Insurance Board from making a mid-year adjustment in insurance premium rates for the FY'98 plan year.