If you haven’t had an opportunity to call your representatives and senators at the Oklahoma Legislature, this would be a great time to call about our Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) bill, House Bill 2985, authored by Representative Avery Frix.
Last week’s update included information about House Bill 1340, legislation that would create a one-time stipend—2% of the annual benefit of the recipient. This bill included caps on the amount depending on the funded ratio of the state’s various pension systems. The average stipend for Oklahoma teachers would be about $340.
The bill was heard in the Banking and Business Committee on Tuesday, and the author, Rep. McDaniel, presented a committee substitute for the bill. This bill raised the maximum stipend amount in the original bill from $750 to $1000 for teachers and firefighters. The caps were also raised for OPERS, OLERS, Police, and Judges and Justices. The benefit amount is still 2% for the one-time payment and the committee substitute requires one to be retired at least 5 YEARS before receiving the stipend. The committee voted DO PASS and would next be heard on the House floor.
Another bill that needs action for support is House Bill 2555, authored by Rep. J.J. Humphrey, which would place an OREA member on the TRS Board of Trustees.
An additional bill affecting the Teacher Retirement system that passed out of the Banking and Business Committee is House Bill 2553 by Rep. McDaniel. This bill is technically a “clean up” request bill from the TRS. OREA supports this bill as it aids in the efficiency of the TRS.
Of course, we are always concerned about the dedicated revenue to the TRS, so it is important to remind our legislators to keep that revenue stream intact, as well as maintaining the defined benefit plan of the system.
I’m sure you’ve heard the results on Monday’s vote on a primary revenue bill for the Step Up Oklahoma Plan. House Bill 1033xx failed to garner the 75% majority vote in the House required to pass a revenue measure. Although touted by some to be the largest tax increase EVER in the state, there hasn’t been a major tax increase since the 1990’s. In fact, Oklahoma has severely cut tax revenues in the past decade creating year after year of revenue failures. We know there are always parties looking to the large dollar amounts held by our teacher’s retirement system, as of January, $16.8 Billion.
All retirees are invited to Oklahoma Retirees Day, March 8, at the State Capitol. OREA is participating with the Oklahoma Retirees Association to support retirement benefits. Free shuttle rides will be available at the Oklahoma AFL-CIO, 501 NE 27, in Oklahoma City. Please watch for more information coming in your OREA News Bulletin.
Contact information for the Oklahoma Legislature is also printed in the coming edition of the OREA News Bulletin. This is a great page, front and back, to pull out and save for a reference. Please feel free to contact our office if you have questions about how to contact your legislator. We are happy to help! Our number is 405-525-2230.
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Thanks for all that you do and THANK YOU for being a member! The NUMBER of members matters!
Sabra Tucker, Executive Director