Oklahoma high court OKs pension law change

American dollars, Photo: tOrange.us / CC BY-SA 4.0

American dollars, Photo: tOrange.us / CC BY-SA 4.0

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled a law that shifted thousands of newly hired state employees into a new 401(k)-style retirement system was appropriately passed by the Legislature in 2014.

The state’s highest court on Tuesday unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that the Legislature’s passage of the bill did not violate a law that requires pension bills to follow certain guidelines.

The state’s highest court, however, returned the case to the trial court to consider whether the new pension law amounted to an illegal expenditure of public funds.

Republican supporters of the bill say the move was needed to shore up the state’s unfunded pension liabilities. But Democrats opposed it, arguing it could place retirement benefits at risk by forcing state workers to invest in the stock market.