OK Lawmakers Form Two Pension Study Panels

December 20, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Oklahoma state lawmakers have formed two study panels to come up with ways to deal with the state’s $16-billion pension shortfall.

A report in the Oklahoman newspaper said both the state Senate and the state House have parallel committees studying ways out of the pension dilemma.

Senate Pro Tem-elect Brian Bingman announced the creation of the Senate’s pension committee Friday. Bingman said he is optimistic lawmakers can find a way to fix the problem despite facing unfunded liabilities that are about three times the amount of the state’s budget this year, the newspaper said.

“We have promises to uphold to retired teachers and workers in Oklahoma, and we also have a duty to ensure sound fiscal security for our state’s future,” Bingman said in a statement, according to the Oklahoman.“We can do both, but it will take a team effort, and I am confident that these committee members will work together in a way that makes Oklahoma’s future more secure.”

The state has separate pension funds for teachers, firefighters, police officers and general public employees. All have multimillion-dollar unfunded liabilities.

The teacher pension fund’s unfunded liability of $10.5 billion would have grown even larger this year had the attorney general’s office not issued an opinion saying the state Board of Education needed to send $35 million to the fund, according to the Oklahoman.