Oklahoma’s 2016 state legislative session starts today. Oklahoma has been in the news a lot recently for a couple of big problems: a teacher shortage and a revenue failure. Neither of those issues directly affects public pensions in the state, but they could (we’ll have more to say on this in the coming weeks). So, given these weighty issues the state is facing, how do some politicians respond? With proposals to reduce the transparency of public pensions funds.
State Representative Randy McDaniel, chairman of the Business, Labor, and Retirement Laws committee, has offered HB 2258 which would remove the performance analysis section of the Oklahoma State Pension Commission reports. Oklahoma has seven pension systems. They are all at various funding levels, but all are moving in a positive direction, seeing improved funding over the last few years. The performance analysis section is one way that the pension funds indicate how they are doing, how their investments are performing, etc.
So what does removing the performance analysis section accomplish? Nothing. It certainly seems odd that a legislator with a background in finance would want to remove a source of valuable information about the performance of the pension funds.
Oklahoma faces serious problems this year. Legislators should be offering serious proposals to shore up their revenue base and attract the most talented teachers to the state. Instead, politicians like McDaniel are offering frivolous legislation that accomplishes nothing other than obscuring valuable information from public view.