Dear OREA Leaders:
The first week of the session has come and gone.
First, the good news: HB 1340 was on the Agenda in the Banking, Financial Services and Pensions Committee. Representative McDanial is the chair of that committee. The bill has been amended from its introductory language and would include a 2% stipend for TRS recipients (with a maximum of $750). The first stage of the process for this type of legislation requires an actuarial study under the OPLAAA (Oklahoma Pension Legislation Actuary Analysis Act) requirements. Therefore, in 2018, the legislature could vote to pass this bill to provide the stipend to retirees. Yes, it's a slow process, but the first hope in several years of being able to provide some additional financial support to retirees. So, the first hurdle has been crossed.
As of the writing of this update, we don't yet have an agenda for next week's BFS&P Committee meeting, but we have reason to believe that HB1172 will not be on the agenda for at least another week. This bill would create an optional DEFINED CONTRIBUTION for TRS members that are newly hired in 2018. As stated in last week's update, this is a dangerous bill and would create a "slippery slope" for the Teacher Retirement System--weakening the overall health of the TRS system and then failing to provide anytime of retirement security for future educators. It is a DECREASE in benefits for future educators. Next week we will send out talking points and flyers for you to use with your legislators and with your members. The message is simple: Don't take away teacher benefits!
I'd like to thank Steve Massey and Terry Ingmire for representing OREA at the Capitol this week. I attended an NEA-R State Staff Meeting in Atlanta, GA this week and received some great training and got some great information on retiree and aging issues. On the national front, we must make a concerted effort to protect Medicare and Social Security Benefits. There are talks taking place as we speak to weaken those benefits that are so important to seniors. Please let your Senators and US Representatives know that those benefits are vital! Many of our officials will be visiting their districts for the President's Day recess in just 10 days. Watch for events in your area to have face to face meetings with these folks.
I'd also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been actively meeting with your local state senators and representatives!!! The work you do is vital to the issues we face. I wish I could personally come shake all of your hands and give you a hug. You inspire me every day. I also want to thank those that have taken the time to write back to me or to call. I cannot emphasize how much your feedback matters to me. If I fail to get back with you personally, please forgive me. I can assure you it is an oversight on my part, it is not intentional.
Thank you for all you do,