Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: February 22, 2006
Senator Mike Mazzei
Bill to Strengthen Retirement Systems Clears Committee
Mazzei wants the state to strengthen its retirement
systems, particularly the Teachers Retirement System
of Oklahoma (OTRS), before it is too late. Mazzei, R-Tulsa,
said he began laying the groundwork to lower the unfunded
liability of that system during the 2005 session. On
Wednesday, the full Senate Appropriations Committee
approved a comprehensive bill to continue that effort.
Mazzei said it is critical to decrease unfunded liabilities
as soon as possible.
“Last year we unanimously approved Senate Concurrent
Resolution 4 which expressed the intent and goal of
fixing the Teachers Retirement System by the year 2015,”
Mazzei said. “OTRS was 47 percent funded at the
time we passed that measure. Currently it stands at
49 percent. The problem is that still leaves us with
$7 billion in unfunded liability, which is more than
the entire state’s annual budget.”
According to OTRS, in June of 2005, there were 40,879
retirees receiving benefits from the system. Ten years
from now, that number is projected to be 61,127.
“The fact that the baby boomers are approaching
retirement age should help lawmakers and the public
realize the crisis we’re facing. We’re going
to need to pump $900 million dollars into OTRS over
the next 9 years to ensure the system is 60 percent
funded,” Mazzei said. “We must repair this
before the unfunded liability cripples our state’s
finances and threatens the retirement of thousands of
In the short term, Mazzei explained the unfunded liability
hurts the state by giving it a lower bond rating.
“The public should know that this situation hurts
us when we finance capital improvement projects. The
amount of unfunded liability we have in these state
pension systems means we don’t get as good a rate
as possible. If we reduced the unfunded liability, we
could save millions of dollars in bonding expenses.”
In order to address problems in OTRS and other systems,
Mazzei has introduced Senate Bill 1894. The measure
calls for several reforms, which includes:
Requiring fiscal retirement bills to have an actuarial
study. Such bills may be introduced in the first session
of the legislature but no action can occur until the
second session of the legislature, wherein the legislature
can review the actual impact of any proposed change.
• Requiring a specific provision for funding the
proposed legislation which fiscally impacts the retirement
believe these reforms will significantly stop the bleeding
that has been occurring in our state retirement systems,
especially OTRS,” Mazzei said.
The bill now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.
more information contact:
Senator Mazzei's Office - (405) 521-5675