The unfunded liability of the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System grew by more than $900 million in fiscal 2010, totaling $10.4 billion as of June 30.

James Wilbanks, executive director of the retirement system, said last week that its total liability was $9.5 billion at the end of fiscal 2009.

Wilbanks said the pension plan was funded at 47.9% as of June 30, down from 48.8% on June 30, 2009. He said the plan should be able to pay projected claims through 2050.

“We are absolutely concerned but we’re in a situation where the projection from our actuary shows we’re not going to run out of money any time soon,” he told trustees. “We’ve got money to pay benefits.”

Wilbanks said lawmakers should consider bolstering the teachers retirement system during the legislative session that begins Jan. 4.

Rep. Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, who will become speaker when the 53rd Legislature convenes, formed a committee in August to overhaul Oklahoma’s public pension systems.

Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, has asked the Legislature’s fiscal staff to provide information on market-dependent defined contribution plans for new state employees that would be similar to a 401(k) system.

Retiree benefits under the state’s current defined benefit retirement plan are based on time of service and salary.

The Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System includes around 90,000 active teachers and 50,000 retirees and ­beneficiaries.

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