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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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For Immediate Release: May 24, 2006

Senator Mike Mazzei
Senator Mike Mazzei

Senate Gives Final Approval to Bill Strengthening Retirement Systems

Sen. Mike Mazzei said he was extremely gratified that the full Senate had given unanimous approval to his bill strengthening retirement systems for teachers, public employees and judges. Mazzei said Senate Bill 1894 was designed to “stop the bleeding” before it is too late.

“Right now we have a total of $10 billion in unfunded liabilities, with $7 billion of that in the Teachers Retirement System of Oklahoma (OTRS),” said Mazzei, R-Tulsa. “Without the safeguards contained in SB 1894, we are putting the pensions of thousands of teachers and public employees at risk, as well as the economy of the entire state.”

The reforms contained in SB 1894 include mandating that fiscal retirement bills have an actuarial study. It also requires such bills to be introduced in the first session of the legislature with no action actually occurring until the second session.

“This would allow the legislature to review the actual impact of any proposed changes,” Mazzei said. “The bill would also require the legislature to provide funding for any legislation that has a fiscal impact on a retirement system.”

Mazzei said the provisions in SB 1894 were based on retirement systems reforms adopted by Georgia, which has since seen its funded levels move from 80 to 100 percent. He noted that OTRS is currently only 49 percent funded.

“The unfunded liability hurts the state because the result is a lower bond rating which forces us to pay more for capital improvement projects—as much as $20 million more a year,” said Mazzei. “But I am very optimistic that we’re on the right track with these reforms and can turn the situation around.”

Mazzei expressed thanks to Rep. Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Young, R-Yukon, for their work on the bill. The bill now moves back to the House for final approval before being sent to the Governor for his signature.

For more information, contact:
Senator Mazzei's Office: (405) 521-5675

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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