Despite the political rhetoric of House Democrats, Senator Lonnie Paxton said Senate Republicans are following the law and protecting the pensions of state retirees by sending a cost of living adjustment (COLA) bill for further study.
“Don’t believe the political hype of anyone who claims Senate Republicans are standing in the way of a COLA for state retirees. Republican reforms have been instrumental in saving the state pension systems from financial ruin. By following those pension reform laws, Senate Republicans are protecting the retirement of current and future state retirees by ensuring the long-term solvency of the pension systems,” said Paxton, R-Tuttle.
Last week, in accordance with the Oklahoma Pension Legislation Actuarial Analysis Act (OPLAA) and Senate rules, the Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee voted to send House Bill 2304 for an actuarial study. The results of that study will be returned to the Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee, and HB 2304 will be eligible for consideration by that committee in the 2020 session.
Paxton said Democrats seem to be glossing over decades of pension fund mismanagement by their predecessors at the Capitol. A volunteer firefighter for 27 years and the spouse of a public school teacher, Paxton said he and his Senate Republican colleagues understand how important a COLA is for state retirees.
“It’s incredulous for House Democrats to insinuate Senate Republicans are playing political games with state retirees. For decades, Democrats raided the state pension funds to balance the budget or pay for political pet projects. That left state systems severely underfunded and the state with billions in unfunded liabilities,” Paxton said. “Republicans ended that practice. Republicans have invested more than $3.4 billion since 2011 above and beyond the normal employer contribution to fix the Democrats’ past mistakes. Republicans, even during the economic recession, kept our commitment to invest in the pension systems. If we didn’t have to fix those past mistakes, we could have invested that money in any number of priorities like increasing teacher salaries, lowering class sizes, or investing more in our infrastructure. Senate Republicans take pension reform seriously, which is why we are committed to following the law.”