‘Serious Concern:’ Oklahoma Had the Sixth Lowest Pension Funding Percentage

  • Joe Wertz

Pew Center on the States

Click here for a large .pdf version of the Oklahoma fact-sheet.

From 2005-2010, the State of Oklahoma failed to consistently pay its annual pension contribution in full, according to a new analysis from the Pew Center on the States.

In fiscal year 2010, the state pension system was 56 percent funded and faced a $16 billion funding gap. “Fiscally sustainable” pension systems should maintain at least 80 percent funding, experts tell Pew researchers.

State lawmakers say pension reforms passed in 2011 and 2012 will help reduce the gap, but Oklahoma’s long-term management of unfunded pension liabilities is cause for “serious concern,” researchers conclude.

Oklahoma only paid 70 percent of the recommended contribution to its pension plans in 2010, “and just 79 percent of what the state should have paid to fund retiree health benefits,” pew researchers say.

And in 2011, state lawmakers raised the retirement age for new employees to 65 from 62 and capped annual cost-of-living adjustments for retirees, according to the report. (Right-click here to download.)

Here’s how Oklahoma pensions compared to its neighbors:

Pension Liability Funding in 2010

State % Funded
Oklahoma 56%
Arkansas 75%
Colorado 66%
Kansas 62%
Missouri 77%
New Mexico 72%
Texas 83%

Source: “The Widening Gap Update,” Pew Center on the States