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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Teacher retirement system performing well

  • The Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System is performing better than 99 percent of all public funds in the United States.
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  • The Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System is performing better than 99 percent of all public funds in the United States, according to a recently released Oklahoma Pension Commission report. The OTRS had a 16.3 percent return on investments in the first nine months of fiscal year 2013, bringing the fund's assets to more than $11.6 billion.
     
    The system has enjoyed long-term success. Over the past ten years, OTRS has ranked in the one percent of all public funds in the United States, with a stellar performance of an average 10.2 percent return.
     
    "The teachers' long-term strategy and their investment board seem to have done a very good job," said State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, who is a member of the Commission.
     
    Don Stracke, Senior Consultant with the investment consulting firm NEPC, briefed the Pension Commission on the status of all of the state's systems.
     
    "Every plan for the last three years has earned its assumed rate of return," Strake said.
     
    State Treasurer Ken Miller echoed that conclusion stating, "All the plans are performing well."
     
    Despite the positive news regarding the status of Oklahoma's seven pension systems, Governor Mary Fallin and Treasurer Miller continue to express an intention to cut future public employees' pension benefits and make drastic changes to the pension systems during the next legislative session.
     
    "Our investments are sound, the returns are good and our plan is stable. Our public school employees and school districts have responsibly made their retirement contributions year after year without fail. Budget deficits and tax cuts should not be funded on the backs of the hardworking public servants in Oklahoma by reducing retirement benefits," said Linda Hampton, Oklahoma Education Association President.
     
    Hampton also said Oklahoma teachers are already 49th in teacher pay. Every surrounding state pays their teachers more. Hampton feels it would be extremely difficult to recruit and retain highly-qualified teachers if the state also reduces retirement benefits for incoming teachers.

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