Senate Democrats kill PERS reform – will cost taxpayers $750 million

Republicans offer leadership on PERS problems

Oregon Senate Republicans

Salem, OR – Senate Republicans filled a leadership vacuum Wednesday by forcing PERS reform legislation to the Senate floor.  Senate Bill 897, which would eliminate the requirement that employers pay the six percent employee contribution to their Public Employees Retirement System account, failed on a party line vote.

“It is obvious to everyone but the state legislature that something must be done about the PERS problem,” said Senator Chris Telfer (R-Bend).  “Ignoring looming deficits and skyrocketing rates only means less money to spend on classrooms, police officers, services for seniors and other vital priorities.  This bill could have been one piece of the solution to the PERS problem.”

Senate Bill 897 would end the statutory requirement that a six percent contribution be made to employees’ retirement accounts.  More than 70 percent of PERS members have this six percent contribution “picked-up” by their employers.  This solution, endorsed by The Oregonian, would save taxpayers $750 million every two years.

Recent studies have shown that PERS has an unfunded liability of $13.6 billion.  As a result, rates charged to employers in the system have more than doubled.  State agencies, school districts and local governments were all forced to shoulder an additional $1.1 billion in expenses this budget cycle alone, for a total of almost $2 billion in PERS charges. Additional rate increases are looming.  Every rate increase comes straight out of state and local budgets and means fewer dollars to pay for teachers, police officers and other services.

“PERS costs are eating school districts and other core services alive,” said Senator Alan Olsen (R-Canby).  “Ignoring this problem won’t make it go away, it makes the problem that much worse for future generations.  Ending the requirement that employers pick up all 6% of an employee’s PERS contribution is one thing we can do to increase funding for education and other important state priorities.”

Senate Republicans also introduced Senate Bill 970 to help stem the bleeding in PERS.  Senate Bill 970 would require employers to make yearly payments to fund projected liabilities in 25 years or less.  Many public employers know how much will be needed to pay for promised post-retirement benefits, but choose to spend money on more immediate needs instead, leaving future administrations to pay for the promises.


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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in OR 76th Legislative Session, PERS | 34 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Joe

    Duh! That is why the were elected in the first place, to do the unions bidding. $$$$$$$$!! Absolutely no balls to do the right thing for the taxpayer.

  • Bob Clark

    A relative of mine was upbeat when Kitzhaber was elected this past November, and asked me what I thought.  I just shrugged my shoulders, and said, “same-o-same-o.”  No surprises so far.  And the latest growth slowdown nationally, caused by the Democrat party’s refusal to allow for example oil companies to fully unleash their profits building new projects, will probably result in Oregon encountering yet another drop in state revenues below forecast.  Yes we all must watch the public employee unions and environmentalists continue to throw up their futile protectionist barriers, even as the state economy slides against them secularly.   

    • valley dude

      THe current economic slowdown is caused by picking on the oil companies, which have just recorded the highest profits in their history? Are you kidding me?

      • BigJohn

        No, not kidding you moron. Big Oil is what keeps this country going. Why don’t you move to Belieze or something.

    • David Anfinrud

      ANy attempt to block any growth in any company because of Green thinking will cost revenue to the state. More than oil companies are affected by what happens at both the State and Federal level.  Each new regulation that increases costs to that company.  Increase costs means salary reduction or find other ways to save money.  Maybe a company wants to expand but can not because it costs more than the profits they could make.  Every state economy has to balance the needs of the State vs Needs of the workers.  Sometimes one group of workers get everything they want. Such as Unions never see any cuts only increases in benfits. WHat happens if there is no money to pay for the promises made 5 years ago?  Let alone promises made today a decade from now when they come due.

      • David Appell

        Re: “green thinking”. On May 30 the NY Times ran a story about how money some Oregon counties are making from wind power. $18M in 10 yrs for Sherman County and its residents, for example. About $6K/yr/turbine in royalty payments for farmers. That green thinking and green incentives seem to be paying off. 

      • David Appell

        Re: “green thinking”. On May 30 the NY Times ran a story about how money some Oregon counties are making from wind power. $18M in 10 yrs for Sherman County and its residents, for example. About $6K/yr/turbine in royalty payments for farmers. That green thinking and green incentives seem to be paying off. 

  • Ron Marquez

    Another step in building the case for increased taxes and fees of every stripe.  SEIU and AFSCME will be leading the charge.

    Government and the unions are absolutely relentless in the never ending quest to milk every penny out of the taxpayers.

  • Anonymous

     the resentment of public employees keeps on growing. AS IT SHOULD

    • Rob DeHarpport

       Yep, Maybe we should invite these 16 Democrat Senators to the next round of lay-offs at all of the next school district budget sessions- Hell, we can have them hand out the RIF notices!

  • BigJohn

    Remember, these same  idiots get all the PERS they can, so what do you expect????

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