Pensions to be primary topic next session

By Michael McNutt | Published: June 3, 2013

Changes to shore up the state’s underfunded pension system will be a key priority for lawmakers next year, leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature say.

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said he also wants to tackle how to deal with 9,000 low-income Oklahomans who will lose their health insurance coverage next year, with perhaps legislators coming back early in a special session.

But a special session seems unlikely unless House Speaker T.W. Shannon has a change of heart.

Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said a Senate committee had drafted a bill in the last days of this year’s session that complied with Gov. Mary Fallin’s idea to provide health insurance for those who will be left without coverage once the Insure Oklahoma program expires Dec. 31. The Republican governor proposed redirecting $50 million in state tobacco taxes now going to the Insure Oklahoma program, with the insurance program continuing as a smaller, more targeted program run with only state dollars.

Shannon, R-Lawton, didn’t like Senate Bill 700, saying he didn’t believe providing health insurance is a proper or efficient function of government.

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