Stillwater News Press

Letters to the Editor

February 22, 2014

LETTER: Oklahoma Senate puts pensions at risk

STILLWATER, Okla. — Jackie Gaston

Stillwater

To the editor:

The Oklahoma Senate just passed legislation that would trade the solvent Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System for a risky 401K plan for new employees.

The state would contribute 9 percent less to new employees retirement package and ask more than twice as much match from them under this legislation, which now moves on to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Teachers Retirement, which is funded at 57 percent is exempt from the legislation this year.

Only OPERS, vested at 84 percent, is in the crosshairs. Public pension funds are actuarially sound at 80 percent.  

This is a giveaway to Wall Street carpetbaggers that legislators say won’t affect people in the current retirement system.

But how can they put all the new employees’ contributions into a separate system without negatively affecting the current systems that depend on those contributions to balance?

Legislators need to slow down and let reforms they implemented in past sessions to work rather than ruining the state’s solvent retirement system. If we expect state employees to be efficient and capable, then we must offer fair and reasonable pay and benefits for work that serves everybody from business leaders to the most vulnerable in our communities. It’s only fair, and it’s only right. It’s time to stop treating state employees like second class citizens.

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