State Retiree Benefits Fact Sheet – Oklahoma

  • December 18, 2007
Oklahoma has one of the poorest-funded pension systems in the country. On an aggregate basis, the state did not meet its yearly required contribution—the amount its own actuaries identify as necessary for a healthy system—once between 1997 and 2006. For Oklahoma's employees' fund, payments have ranged from 52% to 59% of the required amount in each of the last four years. Its teachers' plan is one of the worst-funded pension systems in the country, although the state's 2006 contribution, at 86% of the required amount, was the highest in 10 years. Oklahoma is trying to get a better handle on its pension systems, as evidenced by a new actuarial analysis law (see below). But substantial income tax cuts in both 2005 and 2006 will likely prove hazardous to the health of the teachers' retirement system, which is funded through the state income tax. Oklahoma's retiree health benefits are modest compared with many other states, but still present a strain given financial pressures and the underfunding of the pension system.