“Like Uncle Sam in Days Gone by, OREA Wants You!”
Steve Massey, President
I’ll bet that many of us remember walking into a U. S. Post Office or other government building in our youth and spotting a poster with the image of “Uncle Sam,” all dressed up in red, white and blue, and pointing his finger right at us, saying “I WANT YOU FOR THE U. S. ARMY!” His message might have been for some other cause, but it was clear he was tugging at our sense of patriotism to do some great thing for the country. Uncle Sam was very popular, and his appeals worked.
Forgive us for even the slightest comparison to Uncle Sam’s noble purposes, but OREA wants you today. In fact, OREA needs you to take an active role in recruiting new members for our great organization, which was founded less than a decade after the end of World War II to promote and protect the interests of Oklahoma’s retired educators.
Soon, I hope you will have the occasion to see an OREA poster in a senior center, public library, public school, or some other conspicuous location in your community. It shows a group of typical OREA members reminding all retired educators that the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association is their voice in their retirement years.
The colorful and upbeat OREA poster will be just one part of an ambitious effort to recruit new members in the next year. Joined with a “members recruiting members” program and a special incentive program for local OREA organizations, OREA intends to increase its already strong statewide base of membership to strengthen the retired educator voice at the State Capitol and everywhere else our representation is needed.
In a few days, you’ll hear from OREA the details of the members recruiting members program, and how it will work to make OREA stronger while putting a few extra dollars in your pocket. The plan is simple, but its success will depend on you.
OREA wants you!
VIEW THE POSTER....OREA IS YOUR VOICE
“Retired Educators Give Nod to Joe Dorman
and Dr. John Cox in General Election”
The Oklahoma Retired Educators Association, the state’s voice for more than 55,000 retired public school, career technology, and higher education employees, announced today that it is recommending to its members the candidacies of Joe Dorman and Dr. John Cox in the November 4 general election. Dorman is a candidate for Governor and Cox is seeking the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Norman Cooper, OREA Executive Director, said the organization carefully studied the platforms and overall qualifications of all candidates in the two statewide races, concluding that Dorman and Cox offer great potential for progress in public education, as well as protection and improvement of the state’s largest public pension plan, the Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System.
“Public education at all levels in Oklahoma has seen a dramatic decline in funding in recent years, particularly since the Great Recession of 2008-09. The current governor and state superintendent have failed to champion public education as the most important driver of economic prosperity and quality of life improvement in our state. As other states make educational progress, Oklahoma continues to lag behind. We place responsibility for that on the state’s current political leaders,” Cooper said.
Cooper said that “Joe Dorman has pledged his support for improved public education funding, as well as protection of the Teachers’ Retirement System from politically motivated attacks by powerful forces inside and outside Oklahoma. We strongly believe he will advocate for tax policies fair to all citizens, and will strive to preserve the financial security that TRS offers to tens of thousands of retired education employees.
“Dr. John Cox will bring a breath of fresh air as the state’s new school leader. He will work to eliminate the constant state of controversy that has existed for almost four years due to the divisive behavior of the outgoing superintendent. He will place focus on student instruction, not excessive student testing, and he will seek to involve local school district parents and officials in the education of our students at all levels. Legislators, too, will find Dr. Cox a highly reasonable and consummate professional, as he works with them to craft laws governing public education,” Cooper said. Cox will also serve as a member of the Teachers’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, where he will strongly defend the structural integrity of the pension system, Cooper concluded.
“Second Membership and Legislative Advocacy Meeting
Set for Wednesday, October 1 in Stillwater”
The scene shifts to Stillwater Wednesday, October 1 for the second of eight OREA fall membership and legislative advocacy meetings. All OREA members, regardless of where they live, are invited to attend the meeting for the North Central District, to be held at the Meridian Technology Center, 1312 Sangre Road.
A full agenda will begin at 9:30 a.m. and end at approximately 11:30.
The meeting will focus on efforts to continue OREA membership growth, and how to translate that growth into a greater voice for retired educators in the Oklahoma legislature. Presenters will include OREA President Steve Massey, North Central District Director Bob Hightower, and OREA Executive Director Norman Cooper.
A special emphasis of the meeting will be to listen to the views of members regarding OREA legislative goals for the 2015 session. Member input will be communicated to the OREA Government Relations Committee, which will meet in November to draft the association’s legislative program for the session beginning in February.
An overview of the fall elections will be provided, with encouragement to members to actively support the campaigns of candidates pledged to promote and protect the interests of retired educators.
Dress for the event is casual, and every OREA member in attendance will receive a $10 cash lunch stipend. No RSVP is necessary. Just show up, participate, and enjoy. Call the OREA office at (405) 525-2230 or (800) 310-2230 toll free for more information.
“OREA Fall Meetings: Making Life Better for Retired Educators”
Kicking off a new year of advocacy for retired educators in Oklahoma, OREA members are invited to attend fall membership and legislative meetings at one of eight Oklahoma locations from late September through October.
Everyone attending will receive a $10 lunch stipend, but more importantly will be able to participate in a program aimed at increasing OREA membership and legislative strength. Members will give their views regarding the association’s 2015 legislative agenda. Making life better for Oklahoma’s 55,000 retired educators will be the focal point of each meeting.
No reservations are necessary. Show up, participate, enjoy, and get $10. Dress is whatever makes you comfortable. Attend any meeting, regardless of where you live.
Hope to see you at one of the following meetings!
- September 25 (Th) – Southeast District, Choctaw Tribal Headquarters, Tuskahoma, OK, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
- October 1 (W) – North Central District, Meridian Technology Center, 1312 S. Sangre Road, Stillwater, OK, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
- October 10 (F) – East Central District, Tahlequah Public Library,
120 S. College, Tahlequah, OK, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
- October 15 (W) – Tulsa County/Northeast Districts, Tulsa Technology Center, Lemley Campus, 3420 S. Memorial, Tulsa,
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
- October 21 (T) – Southwest District, Southwest Technology Center, 711 W. Tamarack Road, Altus, OK, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
- October 23 (Th) – Capitol/Central Districts, OREA Headquarters, 323 E. Madison, Oklahoma City, OK, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
- October 24 (F) – South Central District, Southern Oklahoma Technology Center, 2610 Sam Noble Parkway, Business Center Room 204, Ardmore, OK,
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
- October 28 (T) – Northwest District, Northwest Technology Center, 801 Technology Drive, Fairview, OK, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
“Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System
Continues to Lead Public Funds Investing”
The president of the statewide organization representing 55,000 retired public education employees in Oklahoma reacted positively in recent days to news from the State Pension Commission that the Teachers’ Retirement System continues to lead 1,700 national public funds in investing.
Steve Massey, head of the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association, said “the 22.4% retirement system return on investment for the one-year period ending June 30, 2014, is simply outstanding. It certainly reflects a growing economy, but also excellent system management, astute investment policies, a dedicated Board of Trustees, and highly qualified staff.”
Massey observed that, “we’ve become accustomed to good TRS investment news for several years, and we try not to take it for granted. Nonetheless, we recognize the positive impact these investment results will have on the funding level of the system when the annual actuarial report comes out this fall. It should paint the picture of a rapidly improving retirement system, long one of the most underfunded major public pension systems in the United States.”
The Oklahoma State Pension Commission learned August 20 that the Teachers’ Retirement System, the state’s largest – with more than $14 billion in assets – continues to rank in the top 1% of all public funds in the nation, a position it has held for 10 years.
TRS leads all other Oklahoma state retirement systems, several of which also posted strong investment returns for the same period. TRS investment holdings represent approximately 50% of all state pension assets.
NEPC, investment consultant to the pension commission, reported that TRS investment success was achieved through excellent money manager selection, diversity of assets, and operational efficiency.
NEPC reported an average of only 35 basis points, or about one-third of one percent of total assets, paid out to investment firms to manage the system’s portfolio. In return, most of those managers achieved investment returns well above industry benchmarks. Investment fees and commissions totaling approximately $40 million yielded hundreds of millions in increased asset value to the system.
Massey said “We are fortunate to have witnessed solid TRS funding progress for several years, and this latest investment news should reassure Oklahoma’s active and retired educators of the strength and stability of the retirement system. It should also send a message to state lawmakers that the system is on the right path toward full funding.”
“State Board Adopts 2015 Health Insurance Rates”
The Oklahoma Employees Insurance and Benefits Board (OEIBB) met Friday, August 1, in Oklahoma City to adopt premium rates for HealthChoice insurance programs for active and retired state and education employees for the calendar year beginning January 1, 2015.
The news is very good for retired educators participating in the HealthChoice Medicare Supplement with Part D pharmacy program, but not so good for those retired but not yet qualified for Medicare.
For retired educators in the Medicare Supplement with Part D program, the 2015 monthly premium rate will be $16.10 less than 2014, for a rate reduction of 4.98%. The new monthly rate of $307.28 is the result of recent favorable claims experience, combined with a monthly subsidy of $29.34 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The $307.28 monthly rate does not include the Teachers’ Retirement System subsidy ranging from $102 to $105 per month for qualifying retirees, which will further reduce out-of-pocket expense for insurance premiums.
Almost 32,000 retired state and education employees and dependents participate in the Medicare Supplement with Part D program.
For retired educators not yet qualified for Medicare, the adopted 2015 premium for the high option plan is $499.42, up $14.55 from 2014 – a hike of 3.00%. The new rate reflects an OEIBB subsidy of $24.64 per member per month. Stated differently, the subsidy will make the monthly premium $24.64 less than it would be without the subsidy.
Less than 9,000 retired state and education employees and dependents participate in the pre-Medicare program, representing less than 10% of the approximately 109,000 individuals covered by the plan.
OREA representatives were on hand for the adoption of 2015 premiums, having already provided input on behalf of retired educators early in the rate-setting process.
Members with questions about state-sponsored health, life, dental, and disability programs are invited to contact the OREA office.
NEW MEMBER BENEFIT!
OFFICE DEPOT SAVINGS PROGRAM
OREA has partnered with Office Depot® to bring you a FREE discount program. Save up to 80% off preferred products!
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“Program Ideas for Local Unit Meetings and Activities”
Need a new, fresh program idea for your local county meeting? Thanks to the OREA Communications Committee and the Tulsa Metro Retired Educators Association for their suggestions.
Click here for lots of amazing ideas
Ever wonder how OREA members become officers, board members, or committee chairs? Perhaps there are members who would like to
become more active in the association but aren't certain of the way
officers are elected and the responsibilities of each. Click here for
an overview of officers, board members, and committee chairs
how they achieve an office.
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800.310.2230 - Toll Free