Okla. lawmakers to study pension changes in 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma legislators this year hope to address shortfalls in the state pension system - including whether it needs to change how it is funded.

Retirement systems for public safety workers, teachers and other employees have an unfunded liability of $16.5 billion, an amount that is more than twice the state's annual budget. Lawmakers returning to work Monday have filed at least a dozen bills to modify the state's five largest public pension systems. One proposal would raise the normal retirement age for firefighters and make them contribute more of their own money.

One proposal would require that any cost-of-living increase for retirees be adequately funded by the Legislature. There also is talk of replacing defined-benefit pension systems with 401(k)-style defined contribution plans for new hires. Many private companies have adopted that option.

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