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Lawmakers Eye Changes to State Pension Systems (Dec 02, 2010)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — With another projected budget shortfall and billions in unfunded pension liabilities, Oklahoma lawmakers are considering changes to the state's pension systems.

The heads of five state pension systems testified Thursday that the combined unfunded liability is about $16 billion. By far the largest component is the Teachers Retirement System, which has an unfunded liability of $10.4 billion.

Sen. Patrick Anderson of Enid requested Thursday's interim study by the Committee on Retirement and Insurance. Anderson says he expects lawmakers will consider the possibility of shifting from a pension-style plan to a defined contribution plan, similar to a 401k, for new hires.

Dozens of firefighters attended Thursday's hearing, and many expressed concern about the proposed changes.

Moore firefighter Jeff Elmore fears lawmakers are having a "knee-jerk reaction" to budget problems.

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