MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 11, 2013

Fallin OKs consolidation measure


Associated Press

— OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A pair of bills designed to consolidate more than four dozen state boards and commissions are among the 13 Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law Friday. She vetoed another bill that was intended to reduce the balance of state’s unfunded pensions.

Fallin signed a measure that eliminates 27 boards and commissions that are either defunct or duplicative, a move she suggests will save the state more than $50,000. Another bill consolidates 28 separate boards and commissions into seven new panels overseen by the Department of Health, saving an estimated $300,000 a year.

Fallin also signed a bill that directs a division of the Department of Human Services to develop a campaign to promote marriage as a tool against poverty.

The vetoed bill, HB 2077, would have let state workers enroll in a defined contribution retirement plan similar to a 401(k).

The bill by Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Oklahoma City, would have allowed state employees hired after July 2014 to choose between a defined contribution option and the current defined benefit system. The bill was approved earlier this week by the House on a 72-20 vote.

Fallin said in a veto statement that the bill would have done little to reduce the estimated $11 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.

“I am ready and willing to tackle this issue,” Fallin said in her veto message. “I look forward to working with the Legislature during the interim to create true pension reform for the state of Oklahoma.”

Fallin said the state risks a downgrade of its bond rating if the unfunded liabilities are not addressed.