Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: March 16, 2011
Sen. Mike Mazzei
Senate approves pension reform
The full Senate has taken a major step toward addressing Oklahoma’s
$16 billion unfunded pension liability with unanimous approval Wednesday
of a major reform measure.
State Sen. Mike
Mazzei is the author of Senate Bill 891 and chairman of the
Senate Select Committee on Pensions. He said the biggest part of
that $16 billion in unfunded liability is in the Oklahoma Teachers
Retirement System (OTRS), with $10 billion in unfunded liability.
“Under Senate Bill 891, cost of living increases (COLAs) must
be funded by the legislature, instead of leaving them to be absorbed
by the retirement system,” said Mazzei, R-Tulsa. “This
legislation makes that crucial reform for all our pension systems.
This fiscal responsibility measure should reduce our unfunded liability
more than $5 billion.”
Mazzei said the Select Committee on Pension has outlined key goals
necessary to protecting the pensions of hardworking Oklahoma teachers,
police, firefighters and other public employees. Those goals are:
• Reduce Oklahoma’s unfunded pension liability
• Avoid the risk of a massive tax hike
• Avoid budget cuts to pay for unfunded liabilities
• Protect Oklahoma’s bond rating
• Propose reforms that establish a stable, long-term pension
model for Oklahoma
Mazzei said the reforms in SB 891 would not result in any changes
in benefits for those already participating in the state’s
six public retirement systems. He also noted that bond rating experts,
such as Moody’s, have said if Oklahoma doesn’t improve
their pension systems, the state’s bond ratings will suffer.
“That means the interest we’ll be charged for future
bond packages to pay for capital needs will skyrocket,” Mazzei
said. “We don’t want to find ourselves in the same position
as other states, like Illinois, where they’ve been forced
to raise income taxes by 66 percent because of unfunded pension
SB 891 now moves to the House for further consideration.
For more information contact:
Sen. Mazzei: (405) 521-5675