Oklahoma Teachers' Retirement System, Oklahoma City, could sue the Oklahoma Board of Education for refusing to make its required $35 million employer contribution, according to James Wilbanks, executive secretary.
Following budget cuts by the state Legislature this year, the Board of Education approved its own budget June 29, directing funding to education programs, rather than to the pension fund, Mr. Wilbanks said in a telephone interview. He said fund officials are considering their options, with hopes that the Legislature, when it reconvenes in February, will approve supplemental funding to make the contribution.
“All the way at the other end of the spectrum is various legal action,” he said. “At this point, we don't have all of our options identified.”
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett, who also serves as chairman of the Board of Education and is a member of the retirement system's 13-member board, could not be reached for comment.
The $8.3 billion retirement system takes in and pays out about $850 million in employer and employee contributions and dedicated state revenue annually, Mr. Wilbanks said.
“Thirty-five million is going to have an impact, but it's not going to put us in a spot where we cannot pay benefits,” he said.
Oklahoma Teachers had a funded ratio of 49.8% as of June 30, 2009, the most recent data available, Mr. Wilbanks said. The average state fund was 65% funded as of that date, according to Wilshire Associates.