Republicans’ Attempt to Punish Retired Employees Thwarted by House Democrats

Rep. Seneca Scott (D-Tulsa)

Rep. Seneca Scott (D-Tulsa)

[OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, MARCH 23, 2015] Republicans once again attempted to punish retired state employees by proposing House Bill 1711, authored by Rep. Glen Mulready (R-Tulsa).

Currently the Oklahoma Employees Insurance and Benefits Board sets the monthly premiums for active and retired state employees; however, under HB 1711, this oversight would have been eliminated and consequences would include increased health insurance premiums by as much as $300 per month per person.

House Democrats, Reps. Seneca Scott (D-Tulsa) and Johnny Tadlock (D-Idabel) led the effort to keep this legislation from becoming a reality. “This is another example of the continual effort on behalf of Republicans to change to a defined benefit system, a system that has little proof of success in other states when utilized for this demographic,” said Scott. “Since being elected in 2008 I have fought alongside Democrats to protect retired Oklahoma employees and will continue to do so for as long as the people of District 72 will allow.” Scott is term-limited in 2020.

Rep. Johnny Tadlock (D-Idabel)

Rep. Johnny Tadlock (D-Idabel)

Tadlock, a freshman Democrat, expressed frustration by saying, “Retired state employees haven’t seen a cost-of-living adjustment in years and are already expected to do so much with so little. I will not stand by and allow this legislature to impose even more expenses on our retirees. If we could provide a fair cost of living adjustment that takes premium increases like this into account, then fine, but that’s not something the Republicans are willing to do.”

“Oklahoma is behind practically every other state in the country on education funding and teacher pay. Young teachers look at what they would get at the end and are already discouraged. Why would we want to add insult to injury?” stated Tadlock.

Scott summed it all up by saying, “It should be the responsibility of the legislature to protect working Oklahomans. I and fellow democrats are committed to doing everything we can to protect state employees, even into retirement.”

The Oklahoma Public Employees Association and the American Federation of Teachers also made efforts to block this legislation which would directly affect their memberships.