One big issue facing the Oklahoma Legislature this year is whether to grant a cost of living adjustment (COLA) to more than 120,000 retired state and local public servants. These retired police and law enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers, and state employees have not had an increase in their monthly retirement payment since 2008. In that time, rising costs for health insurance, property taxes, and other needed purchases have cut their purchasing power.
$1.00 in benefits generates $1.39 in economic impact in that county
In collaboration with the Oklahoma Public Employees Association and with data provided by the state’s five major retirement systems, OK Policy has developed these interactive maps showing the impact retired public employees have in Oklahoma. The maps show the number of retirees by county, as well as the retirement benefits sent each year to each county.
The first map shows annual average retirement payments to each county, as well as an aggregate total. These payments range from a total of $1.6 million annually in Cimarron County to more than $417 million annually in Oklahoma County. By hovering over each county on the map, you can see the total payments and the payment from each retirement system, along with the county average for all public service retirees. For example, retired teachers in Creek County receive $16.4 million in retirement benefits annually, and the average for all public service retirees is about $21,245. Considering that each $1.00 in benefits generates $1.39 in economic impact in that county, public retirement is an important economic driver in our communities.
The second map shows how many retirees receive a monthly benefit in each county. The number of retirees ranges from 102 in Cimarron County to just over 18,000 in Oklahoma County.
OK Policy has called on lawmakers to consider at least a 4 percent COLA increase, and Legislative activity this session indicates this proposal is moving forward with up to a 4 percent increase depending on their retirement date.