Oklahoma pension problems: $823 million annual debt, or $3.4 billion in savings after 30 years?
By Patrick B. McGuigan, Associate Publisher
OKLAHOMA CITY – This sentence make even a policy wonk yawn: The annual amortization cost for Oklahoma’s government pension plan is $823 million.
Translated into plain English, as a leading pension reformer in Oklahoma puts it, $823 million amount is “what it costs to serve the debt from the unfunded pension liabilities of the past.”
Now that we have your attention:
Edging toward final approval at the state Capitol is a proposal that would shift the Sooner State’s largest government pension plan (the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System, or OPERS) away from the billions it faces in unfunded liabilities for the “defined benefit” pensions most public employees now receive.
Across all seven state plans, current unfunded liabilities are projected at $11.5 billion, making the OPERS reform one with potentially high returns.
Going forward (while preserving the status quo for existing workers), all new employees would become part of a plan that would be solvent in 19 years, and on a guide path to $3.8 billion in savings after three decades.