Boost to pensions

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.