Article: Retired educators question legislators (Oklahoma)
"Jackson responded to a question about the need for additional health insurance premium support for retirees. He said he will sponsor a bill to lower the premium rates paid by pre-Medicare retirees. He will consider supporting a bill, to be sponsored by Rep. Terry Ingmire, R-Stillwater, that would pay the full amount of Medicare retirees’ premiums."
Published: November 26, 2005
(Enid, OK Newspaper)
Retired educators question legislators
State Rep. Mike Jackson and state Sen. Patrick Anderson answered questions and listened to comments from members of Garfield County Retired Educators at the group’s November meeting.
The two legislators were asked about several issues expected to come up in the 2006 legislative session.
One issue concerning GCRE members is a proposal formerly called “wear-away,” now referred to as Educators’ Extended Service Incentive Program. The proposal primarily would benefit people who will retire at the higher end of the pension scale and would be of no benefit to current retirees. GCRE members believe it would add to the liability of the Oklahoma Retired teachers Systems (OTRS) and are opposed to it.
Jackson, R-Enid, said he did not support the proposal. Anderson, R-Enid, also expressed doubts about the plan but said it likely would pass in the Senate because of strong support from groups such as the Council for Oklahoma School administration, which represents superintendent and other administrators.
Jackson responded to a question about the need for additional health insurance premium support for retirees. He said he will sponsor a bill to lower the premium rates paid by pre-Medicare retirees. He will consider supporting a bill, to be sponsored by Rep. Terry Ingmire, R-Stillwater, that would pay the full amount of Medicare retirees’ premiums.
Both legislators also agreed when excess dollars are available in the state budget some of that revenue should go to pay down the unfunded liability of OTRS. Anderson said the unfunded liability has a negative impact on the state’s fund rating, which means the state has to pay higher interest rates on the funds it issues.
Joe Struckle, former president of Northwestern Oklahoma State University, said a group of former college presidents has been working on a plan that would make OTRS solvent in approximately 16 years. It would involve a slight increase in the amount active employees, school districts, colleges and the state contribute to OTRS. Both legislators expressed interest in hearing more about the plan.
Brenda Faust, spokesperson for GCRE, expressed appreciation to Jackson and Anderson for their time and interests.
“We applaud them for being willing to take on some tough questions,” said Brenda Faust, GCRE spokeswoman. “The upcoming legislative session is going to be vitally important to education retirees. We must stay in contact with our legislators so that they will know the issues of concern to us.”