House legislation strengthens firefighter pensions

Staff Writer

Legislation that strengthens the pension system for Oklahoma firefighters has passed the House with a vote of 93 to 0.

House Bill 1705 addresses the interest distribution for the Deferred Retirement Option Plan. The changes in conjunction with this year’s proposed administrative rules changes are projected to produce $1 billion dollars in savings over the next 30 years.

“The reforms are needed and significant,” said Rep. Rand McDaniel, R- Edmond, chairman of the House Banking, Financial Services and Pension Committee. “Much can be achieved when there’s collaboration and a strong commitment for results.”

The purpose of the DROP is to provide a good way for municipalities to keep their most experienced firefighters in their workforce. Some of Texas’ fastest growing cities, like Dallas, Houston and Austin, are having major problems with their pension plan because, among other reasons, the DROP benefit provisions have become unsustainable.

According to the most recent actuarial report, the firefighter pension system has a funded ratio of 65.9 percent, with an unfunded liability of nearly $1.2 billion.

“Solidifying the pension has been a joint effort between the Legislature, and the members of the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension,” said House Speaker Charles McCall. “I’m very grateful for Rep. McDaniel for working diligently to save our state a significant amount of money.”

Praise for the legislation was shared by the director of the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System.

“We are proud of the firefighting community for stepping up and taking care of their pension system,” said Bob Jones, the director of the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System. “This long term endeavor would not have been possible without the strong leadership of the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association and the Oklahoma State Legislature.”

The legislation must now pass through the Oklahoma Senate before heading to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.


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