Committee Approves State Employee Benefit Modernization Bill
Mike Seals - February 19, 2021 2:12 pm
Bill heads to full Appropriations
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee unanimously approved legislation Thursday modifying the annual benefit allowance for state employees. Senate Bill 650 is authored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Kim David, R-Porter, to modernize the annual state employee flexible benefit allowance to better address ever-increasing healthcare costs.
“This bill is needed to help Oklahoma’s 33,000 state employees, many of which essentially get a pay cut each year as the current benefit allowance calculation isn’t keeping pace with the increasing costs of their state health insurance,” David said. “Benefits were frozen in 2012, and this bill provides a modest increase of 2% per year to adjust for inflation and bring the benefit allowance more in line with current health insurance costs.”
David noted that state employee compensation is approximately 12% below the market value, so adjusting the benefit allowance is an important step in helping state employees.
Under SB 650, the benefit allowance increase would go into effect January 1, 2023.
House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, is the principal House author of the bill, which is supported by the Oklahoma Public Employees Association.
The measure now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.