Senate approves increasing state employee flexible benefit allowance
Mike Seals - March 8, 2021 11:18 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma has around 33,000 state employees and one of their benefits as state workers is to get most, if not all, of their health insurance covered under their flexible benefit allowance. As a measure to control costs, the annual benefit allowance was frozen in 2012 and has not increased since, even though health premiums have increased almost annually. On Monday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 650 to bring the benefit allowance more in line with current healthcare costs. Senate Majority Floor Leader Kim David, R-Porter, authored the bill.
“This state employee benefit allowance increase was needed to bring the benefit in line with inflation after being frozen for the past nine years. If the two don’t keep pace, state employees actually take a pay cut, and that’s definitely not what we want for these hardworking public servants,” David said. “I want to thank my Senate colleagues for approving this important modernization to state benefits. I hope the House sees the importance in it as well and gets it to the governor’s desk.”
Starting January 1, 2023, the flexible benefit allowance will increase to allow for an inflationary rate of 2% for each year it has been frozen. Studies have shown that Oklahoma state employee compensation is approximately 12% below the market value.
SB 650 will next be considered in the House where House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, is the principal House author.