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

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Posted by at 09:12 | Posted in Oregon Senate | 28 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Joe

    These tireless, selfless workers toil away for the good of all of Oregon – why deny them a small benefit when they finally rest from all the hard work they have performed for our benefit?
    Please – they must be allowed to retire from public service at a living wage.
    I, for one, applaud their tireless efforts toward making Oregon a beautiful place in which to live and raise a family. Clean air, clean forests, clean beaches, clean rivers, clean streets, clean everything because of the brave politicos who make it all happen.

    •  Really? I am unconvinced that any good that was done outweighs the harm.

    •  Why should a government employee get to have a living wage in retirement when the people they were to serve, the people who paid their wage can’t depend on having a living wage in retirement because of what government screws up?

  • Doug

    Candidate Coe,

    You do not go far enough.  No elected official is an employee of the State government.  Their term of service is only as long as their term of office. Serving one term or twenty makes no difference to me.  They are not employees and are not eligible nor should they be for benefits they negotiate for public employees.  To do so is a conflict of interest, that conflict is between the best interest of the public, us against their own financial benefit.  Simple. No elected official is eligible for a pension, health benefits or paid vacations, simply because they were elected to legislate, serve as sheriff or run down stray dogs if that positions happens to be elected, or sit on the Supreme Court. (Speaking of the greatest conflict of interest of all in Oregon).

    A constitution amendment is needed to codify this simple principle of fairness and equity to the Oregon citizen tax payers.

  • Gary, I applaud your intentions. I too, if elected, will not participate in the PERS system. In addition I have pledged to give my salary to charity. I am not going to Salem for a paycheck. I’ll take the per diem when I’m there. That should be enough to pay for space rental in an RV park where I’ll park my trailer while I’m in Session and pay for food and expenses. If there is anything left over I’ll see if it can be returned to the taxpayers. See “A Time For A Devolution in Oregon” March 21, 2012,

                               Jim Welsh, Candidate HD32

  •      It would be interesting to see which politicians opted out of Pers. Is there any way to find out?
         I think Shawn Lindsay and Katie Eyre opted out.
    If elected, I will will join you and Jim in opting out of Pers.

    But, unlike Jim, I will keep any pay that I have earned by working hard for the people in my House District.

  • what about the procurement card mess?  why are these cards passed out like candy?  for virtually everything?  it’s most likely the biggest black eye the government(s) entities have.  it’s disgusting what they are allowed to pass off to the people to pay for.  enough is enough! thanks, patty

  • Johnh

    FYI – members of Congress do not have an “elaborate retirement program” of their own.  They participate in the same retirement program as all civilian federal employees.  Part of that program is Social Security.

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