The Edmond Sun

June 7, 2013

Pension reform shores up firefighters’ system

Rep. Randy McDaniel
Special to The Sun

OKLA. CITY — Oklahoma is on the rise. The state’s financial condition is becoming stronger, while the private sector continues to expand opportunities for economic prosperity.

Legislation recently has been enacted to reduce barriers for future growth. Reforms have been passed intended to reduce workers’ compensation costs, burdensome government regulations and personal income tax rates. Moreover, resources for critical infrastructure needs have been approved.

Additionally, the Legislature again passed significant pension reform legislation. Several years ago, the unfunded liability of the state pension system had swelled to more than $16 billion. Sweeping reforms were enacted. The debt was reduced by more than $5 billion. As a result, Oklahoma’s bond rating remained uncompromised, while the U.S. government’s bond rating was downgraded.

The firefighter pension system, however, was still in a precarious position. In addition to being more than $1 billion in debt, the gap between annual contributions and expenses was substantial and growing.

This session, I authored a comprehensive reform package designed to shore up the firefighter pension system. The legislation increases the years of service, the years to become vested and the minimum age required for retirement. The bill augments the contributions paid into the plan by the firefighters, municipalities and state. Furthermore, the bill reforms the supplemental deferred retirement option plan.

The measure’s passage took cooperation and resolve. The future condition of the firefighter retirement system will be significantly more secure. Improving the system’s financial situation is not only important to firefighters, but also to all Oklahomans they serve and protect.

REP. RANDY McDANIEL represents House District 83, which includes a portion of southern Edmond. He is chairman of the Economic Development and Financial Services Committee, Pension Oversight Committee and on the A&B Transportation, Energy and Aerospace and Veterans and Military Affairs committees in the House. He may be reached at his office by calling 557-7409.