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Pension plans: Oklahoma reform sparks opposition

Pension plans for Oklahoma public workers would convert to work like a 401(k) retirement plan under one proposal.

By Associated Press / October 27, 2010

Oklahoma City firefighters investigate the scene of a house fire in 2009. A coalition of firefighters, educators, and other public employees opposes a new proposal that would switch their pension plans to a system similar to 401(k)s.

ZUMA Press/Newscom/File

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OKLAHOMA CITY

A coalition of educators, firefighters and other public employees say they're worried about proposed changes to the state's public pension systems.

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Members of the Public Pension Coalition on Tuesday discussed the plan to alter the state's defined benefit system to a defined contribution system for new state workers.

Under a defined benefit plan, retirees receive a set monthly amount based on the length of service and salary. In a defined contribution plan, employers contribute a percentage of income to a fund that's more market-dependent, like existing 401(k) retirement plans.

Legislative leaders have said overhauling the state's pension system will be a priority next year. The state's seven public pension plans have an estimated $15 billion in unfunded liability.