Policy Documents

Saving Workers’ Retirement: First Steps Toward Public Pension Reform in Oklahoma

Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs –
May 28, 2013

Oklahoma’s public employee retirement systems’ need for reform and real structural change no longer can be ignored

The Challenge:

• Oklahoma’s public employee retirement liabilities are staggering, $11.5 billion, and exceed the state appropriated budget by 69 percent.

• Oklahoma’s public retirement employee liabilities grew again during the past year.

• Across the United States of America and the world, defined-benefit retirement plans are in trouble due to an imbalance in promises and resources, a lack of realistic expectations, susceptibility to political misdirection, and inherent cost challenges.

• Over the long-term, Oklahoma needs real public employee retirement reform of all six of its active state defined-benefit plans in order to keep its promises to current and retired government employees and to allow for adequate funding of core services.

The Solution:

• Real public retirement reform in Oklahoma will result in peace of mind about safe and secure retirement for public employees.

• Reform of public retirement plans can be done in stages.

• Reform of the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) is the best place for structural reforms to public retirement plans to begin.

• Oklahoma needs a defined-contribution retirement plan for all new employees eligible for the OPERS.

Implementing a defined-contribution retirement plan for all new employees eligible for the OPERS:

• can be accomplished and will fairly compensate state employees;

• will help employees have control over their own retirement;

• will ensure that pensions are available and sustainable;

• will result in a fair system from government that both

public employees and taxpayers can trust;

• will allow the state to fully pay off its OPERS retirement

debt (with no future accumulating liabilities) in 32 years;


• will give employees an asset that can be managed

and transferred to employees’ families and allocated for

other needs deemed important to employees.