I have received numerous calls about the confusion of retirement systems in Oklahoma, so we have put together a brief explanation of the systems.
Oklahoma Has Seven Retirement Systems
1. Oklahoma Teachers’ Retirement System (OTRS) – Teachers and administrators are required to be members, and support staff may join voluntarily. As of June 30, 2013, OTRS had 153,034 members, (89,333 active contributing, 9,120 inactive and 54,581 retired members). The member, employer, state, and “grant matching” contribution rates are established by law. In addition, the State of Oklahoma contributes a percentage of its revenues from sales taxes, use taxes, corporate income taxes, individual income taxes, and lottery proceeds to the system. This percentage is currently 5.00% and no changes are scheduled in this rate. This system is expected to be fully funded in 17 years.
2. Oklahoma Public Employees’ Retirement System (OPERS) – OPERS is for state, county and municipal employees. OPERS is funded by employee and employer contributions and returns on investment.
3. Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges (URSJJ) – This retirement system is for all justices and judges. The URSJJ is a single-employer public employee retirement plan, which is a defined benefit pension plan, that covers all justices, judges of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, Workers’ Compensation Court, Court of Appeals and District Courts. URSJJ is administered by OPERS and its Board of Trustees. The URSJJ is funded through a combination of member contributions, employer contributions and investment earnings.
4. Oklahoma Firefighters’ Pension and Retirement System (OFPRS) – This retirement system is for firefighters. The system is funded by employee contributions, employer contributions, and a portion of the statewide insurance premium tax allocated to the system.
5. Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System (OLERS) – OLERS provides retirement benefits for several law enforcement agencies of the State of Oklahoma. This system is funded by the members and their employers. The remainder of the total contribution is the required state contributions which consist of a portion of revenues from drivers’ license fees and insurance premium tax.
6. Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System (OPPRS) – This retirement system is for qualified police officers and/or their beneficiaries of the participating municipalities. This system is funded by contributions of members, municipalities and the State of Oklahoma.
7. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation – This department has a defined contribution retirement plan (401-k). An account is established for the employee, and the department contributes a percentage of pay for retirement benefits based upon years of service.
Each retirement system has its own membership and funding sources. Some are defined benefit and some are defined contribution, 401(a), 401(k), or other options.
Passed in 2014, House Bill 2630 referred to OPERS. This law will place all new hires after November 1, 2014 in a 401(a) plan similar to the Department of Wildlife Conservation’s defined contribution retirement plan.
HB 2630 DOES NOT impact teachers, firefighters or law enforcement. They are still under a defined benefit system.
Contrary to public rumor, according to the Senate Journal Record, there has not been a piece of legislation in committee or on the Senate floor to vote a change to the Teacher Retirement System in the last four years.
As always, it is my pleasure to serve the citizens of Senate District 4. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 405-521-5576, email email@example.com, or visit my website at www.senatormarkallen.com.
Until next time,
Senator Mark Allen