Budget & Tax

Pension benefits not a reliable way to attract, retain employees

Curtis Shelton | May 29, 2024

Employees have been moving on to new jobs faster than ever. This has been a trend for more than a decade but accelerated during the COVID-19 health event. Since then, employers—both public and private—have been scrambling for ways to recruit and retain employees.

This was a major consideration when the Oklahoma Legislature decided to boost teacher pay between $3,000 and $6,000 per teacher. This year, SB102, which deals with police, took a different approach to deal with the same problem. Instead of a pay raise, SB102 would increase retirement benefits through the OPPRS defined-benefit plan. Unfortunately, research has shown this is likely to be less effective than simply raising pay. Jen Sidorova of the Reason Foundation shows pension benefits are not a reliable way to attract or retain employees.

“A recent survey by the MissionSquare Research Institute of young public-sector workers (those aged 35 and under) reveals that only 23 percent ranked retirement benefits among the top three factors attracting them to public-sector jobs, placing these benefits seventh overall,” she writes.

This is another reason Gov. Kevin Stitt made a wise decision when he decided to veto SB102. Not only is it unlikely to achieve the desired results, but it also puts taxpayers and pension recipients at risk by creating $90 million in unfunded liabilities. 

Curtis Shelton Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton

Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton currently serves as a policy research fellow for OCPA with a focus on fiscal policy. Curtis graduated Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Arts in Finance. Previously, he served as a summer intern at OCPA and spent time as a staff accountant for Sutherland Global Services.

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