Governor’s ultimatum is not the leadership on PERS reform we need

Sen Larry George_thb

by Sen. Larry George

Salem, OR ­– Senator Larry George (R-Sherwood) issued the following statement yesterday morning after a remonstrance on the Senate floor:

“The Governor’s caustic, partisan press release Thursday evening is a disturbing departure from his private statements and the bi-partisan, collaborative tone over the past several weeks. In a private conversation with the Governor on Wednesday, he stated that his proposal was not an ultimatum to paint Republicans into a corner. He stated his proposal was an initial step to break the log-jam on PERS negotiations.

“As a sign of our good faith, we have taken a significant political risk and for more than two months have pushed a detailed and serious revenue package, including tax increases on the wealthy and relief for small business and low income Oregonians. We have relentlessly pursued negotiations with Democrats to find a balance of increased revenue and real PERS reforms. We have done this in a bi-partisan manner, because we believe true PERS reform is essential for the long-term welfare of classrooms and vitality of local services.

“In order for revenue and PERS reform discussions to be successful, two things must happen: Republicans must make hard votes on taxes, Democrats must make hard votes on PERS. Senate conversations on the revenue package are almost complete.

“The reality is that PERS negotiations, where Democrats must be willing to stand up to their political supporters, have resulted in a log-jam. Legislative Democrats are simply saying no. That is not a negotiation.

“We have rejected the temptation to use the absence of real leadership on PERS reform as a political bludgeon, and have instead embraced the opportunity to find true bi-partisan compromise and adopt a solution that empowers Oregon.

“We reject the Governor’s assumption that declining his first offer of a small PERS package is an end to the conversation. In a true negotiation, you make offers, not ultimatums. We believe that though the challenge is great, there is a historic opportunity to truly reform PERS, raise new revenue, give small businesses tax relief, and position Oregon for success and prosperity. We are at the table, awaiting the arrival of the Governor and legislative Democrats.”