The history of key pension decisions and solutions for a secure future is explored in a new book by state Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Edmond.
McDaniel said the book explores the need for pension reform in modern society. He brings the reader into modern times to examine demographic issues.
“It looks through pensions throughout the ages. They started over 2,000 years ago in the Roman empire,” McDaniel said. “And some of the conflicts and problems that have happened are fascinating.”
“Pensions and Prosperity” will be published soon, but the exact release date of the book published by Mercury Press is not specified, McDaniel said.
Pensions lasted about 500 years with the Romans as a key component of attracting people to fight for Rome, he continued. The Roman’s pension system contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire, McDaniel said.
No records of pensions have been found until 1,000 years after the fall of Rome, he said. Pensions began in America before the U.S. Constitution was written. The Continental Army offered pensions as a means to be competitive with Great Britain, McDaniel said.
“I make the case that there are differences. Pensions can be done but they have to be managed right,” he said. Hazardous duty should be acknowledged with pensions, he said.
“I think we also have to look at modern society and mobility,” he said. “People want to be able to change jobs. They want higher pay and the flexibility more than retirement rewards based on longevity.”
Gov. Mary Fallin has said, “New hires within the Oklahoma Employees Retirement System should be moved from the outdated, mid-20th century pensions to a more affordable and flexible 401(k) style benefits used in the private sector.”
One of McDaniel’s top legislative goals in 2014 is to improve the state of Oklahoma’s pension system.
Currently, all systems use the current benefit plan model. So McDaniel will pursue a transition effort to a defined contribution plan for all new state employees starting after a date yet to be determined.
McDaniel was determined to reduce the state’s unfunded pension mandates in 2010 while noting that total unfunded state pensions had swelled from $6 billion in 2000 to more than $16 billion in 2010.
The most significant of McDaniel’s reform signed by Fallin required the funding of all future cost of living adjustment benefit enhancements, saving the state $5.5 billion.
“At the end I make a point to say it is suppressing wages by having a retirement system that has huge unfunded liabilities,” McDaniel said. “It affects everything else we do from education funding to wages for everyone.”
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