Sunday, October 9, 2011

Teachers' Retirement System Responding Positively to Pension Reform Efforts

Sen. Mike Mazzei
The chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Pensions said he was encouraged that the solvency of the state’s largest retirement system has dramatically improved in recent months. Dr. James Wilbanks, Executive Director of the Teachers’ Retirement System, announced the decrease in unfunded liability in the pension fund late last month.

“Our committee’s goal was to reduce the unfunded liability in TRS which was more than $10 billion this past session. Thursday’s (Sept. 29) announcement shows we were right on target,” said Sen. Mike Mazzei, who chairs the Select Committee on Pensions. “It now stands at $7.6 billion, meaning we are on track to ensuring long-term stability. This will protect the retirements of dedicated educators throughout Oklahoma.”

According to Wilbanks, the estimated time needed to fully fund the pension plan has virtually been cut in half. Previously, it was projected that it would take nearly 40 years or more to fully fund the plan—now it could be 100 percent funded within 22 years.

“For too many years, legislators refused to acknowledge or address the fact that left unchecked, the Teachers’ Retirement System was facing insolvency,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman. “Sen. Mazzei has worked tirelessly on this issue for years, and now we are already seeing the results of our legislative efforts. In terms of protecting our state’s financial future, we cannot understate the importance of these new laws.”
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