Republicans offer compromise PERS reform proposal


Oregon Senate Republicans, Oregon House Republicans

Salem, OR – As part of on-going discussions, Republicans have released another proposed set of Public Employee Retirement system reforms that would save classrooms and local governments over $1.3 billion over the next two years.

“Successful PERS reforms will put teachers back into classrooms, cops back into patrol cars, and keeps seniors in their homes longer,” said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). “This proposal accomplishes those things in a fair, reasonable and constitutional way. We are serious about finding a compromise, bi-partisan solution that provides local communities with relief.”

The Republican proposal provides relief to local communities within the tight constraints of what Democrats said they could agree to. The proposal recognizes that the savings of SB 822 are not significant enough to make new investments in classrooms and other critical services, which Republicans believe should be the benchmark of successful PERS reforms.

“We need to fix PERS. Senate Bill 822 did not fix PERS,” said House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte). “This legislature has an opportunity and an obligation to do more than just stop the bleeding. For too long education at all levels has been forced to cut teachers and school days in order to pay the unreasonable parts of the PERS bill. Now is the time to put resources back into the classroom.”

Republicans pointed out that in light of the May revenue forecast that gives the state almost $1.5 billion in total increased revenue, new taxes are no longer needed to balance the budget. Republicans continue to work with Democrats on proposals to increase taxes, but the primary focus of discussions should be on reforming a broken PERS system in an effort to save local community budgets.

“It is clear that the legislature has enough revenue to meet the basic needs of the state,” said Senator Larry George (R-Sherwood). “What remains important is fixing PERS for future generations, and giving tax certainty to the small businesses that will lead our economy out of recession.”

The Republican PERS compromise reform proposal includes a progressive COLA limitation, benchmarking annuities for money match calculations to market rates, providing employers with flexibility on the pick-up, a 1% redirect of the IAP, ending pension spiking, using state agency PERS savings to pay down the unfunded liability and removing legislators and statewide elected officials from PERS. Republicans are also pushing a tax rate cut for small businesses.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Democrats to reach an agreement that positions Oregon for success now and in the future,” said Ferrioli. “Republicans have consistently demonstrated willingness to compromise when it comes to total PERS reform savings and other closely held ideals, and are optimistic that if Democrats are willing to adopt a similar spirit, a bi-partisan solution that is good for Oregon can be reached.”