Cleveland Comments on Positive Pension Reform Efforts by state GOP
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Bobby Cleveland offered comments on how Republican lawmakers in the Oklahoma House of Representatives have secured more money for educators and state workers through a slate of positive pension reforms.
His comments come in light of recent news reports that show Oklahoma’s pension funds are outperforming other states where pension fund managers are using alternative investment strategies that often come with high fees but result in low performance.
A recent story in the Wall Street Journal, for instance, shows many cities and states are short by $4 trillion what they would need to meet their pension promises. Another report by Yahoo Finance shows the use of alternative investment strategies has cost American taxpayers more than $600 billion over the past decade.
“Oklahoma Republicans, however, have made a commitment to improving the fiscal strength of the state’s retirement systems for teachers, firefighters, police officers and other state workers, since taking the majority a decade ago,” said Cleveland, R-Slaughterville.
Prior to 2010, Cleveland said the state’s pension liabilities had grown to over $16 billion, causing an annual shortfall of $500 million. The state’s bond rating was in jeopardy of being downgraded. Cleveland was among a group of Republican lawmakers who committed to righting the state’s retirement systems through a combination of major reforms, historic contributions and superior investment results. This same group has safeguarded the pension funds from constant requests to raid them by other lawmakers and members of the public.
Now, the total unfunded pension liability has shrunk by $7.7 billion. Cutting the pension debt almost in half allowed lawmakers to fill the large funding gap. Over the same period, the funded ratio has improved from 56 percent to 78 percent.
“It’s distressing to read about other states that are putting their public retirees at great risk by mismanaging their pension systems,” Cleveland said. “It makes me all the more thankful that in Oklahoma a group of Republican lawmakers determined to stabilize our pension systems to ensure the maximum amount of benefit will be there for the long-term as our public employees retire.”