State legislators shouldn’t be on PERS

by Gary Coe

There are those that contend that Congress should step out of their elaborate retirement program and instead participate in the Social Security program. The belief is that if congress were recipients, they would make certain that the program was properly funded.

However in Oregon’s state government, I believe that part of the reason our legislature has not fixed Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System, is that the legislators and their staff are included in the PERS program.

John Ludlow, candidate for Clackamas County Chair, has announced that he intends to send a letter within 30 days of being elected (as required by Oregon Law), declining automatic enrollment. Ludlow’s comment is that “PERS is for public employees, and not for politicians”.

I believe he has a good point, and I intend to follow his lead and decline participation in PERS once elected to the Senate. It is doubtful that the legislature would vote themselves out of a benefit program, and it may take an initiative referendum to accomplish. However, Oregon is a citizen legislature, which assumes that all members have other jobs, and that the legislature cannot be their only income. As a matter of principle and to show real leadership, I would urge other legislators to drop out of the Public Employees Retirement System, and then attend to make the necessary changes to PERS, that properly rewards our government employees, yet is affordable to the over 800 PERS employers.

Gary Coe is a candidate for the Oregon State Senate District 14