PERS – A Symbol of Government Corruption

A recent national survey indicated that nearly eighty percent of the American public would favor getting rid of the president and all of the members of Congress. Those favoring removal believe that the politicians do what is in their (the politicians’) best interests and not what is in the best interest of the people.

Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines “corrupt” thusly:

“1.a: to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions; also: BRIBE b: to degrade with unsound principles or moral values 2: ROT, SPOIL 3: to subject (a person) to corruption of blood 4: to alter from the original or correct form or version. . .”

The original intent of government in the United States was to serve the people. Over time, and with the growth in the size and reach of government, the primary intent of government has become the preservation of power and benefits for those who run the government.

While most of the disgust and distrust of our politicians has crystallized around the recent passage of the massive healthcare bill — including both the vote and the backroom deals to secure the vote — the foundation of people’s anger can be found in a hundred different actions (or inactions) by all levels of government. In Oregon, no better example exists than the manipulation of the political process by the government class and the public employee unions with regard to the Public Employees Retirements System (PERS).

The PERS system is provided at no cost to the employees. The benefits cannot be reduced. And the cost of sustaining PERS must be paid before any other program expenditures can be made by any agency of the state and local governments.

The recent history of the corruption of PERS is, in actuality, a history of recent corruption of government itself.

Originally the PERS system was set up so that employees paid up to six percent of their salary as a contribution towards their retirement. During a period of fiscal constraint the public employee unions bargained for a “phase in” of the government paying that contribution in lieu of pay raises. That was during a period of time when, as former California Speaker of the House and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, described the grand bargain for public employment existed:

“The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life,” Brown asserted. “But we politicians “” pushed by our friends in labor “” gradually expanded pay and benefits . . . while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages. . . . “

Now according to a report by the Oregon Department of Employment public employees, even after excluding their generous benefits packages, make one-third more than their private sector counterparts. And yet the state continues to make those public employees’ contributions to the PERS pension plan. Why? Because they can. Because those making the decisions are also beneficiaries of the PERS system and they are insuring their own security at the expense of Oregon citizens. (Please note that I did not say Oregon taxpayers because the burden falls on those who are denied benefits and services because of the costs of PERS as well as the taxpayers who pay the costs of PERS. )

When the abuses of the PERS system first came to light during the 2002 gubernatorial campaign, the legislature sought to mitigate the problem by a series of reforms. The public employees unions challenged those reforms and the Supreme Court tossed out most of the major reforms. The Supreme Court found that Oregon’s constitution requires that a right or benefit once given to a public employee can never be reduced or eliminated during the employee’s term of employment. Of course, no such right is actually set forth in Oregon’s constitution and the Supreme Court had to “divine” the intentions of the framers of the constitution by reading between the lines. More important that the courts ability to “divine” the intentions of the framers is the fact that the members of the Supreme Court are all PERS beneficiaries and thus they have insured their own security at the expense of Oregon’s citizens.

The decision of the Oregon Supreme Court places Oregon’s public employees in a unique and superior position vis-à-vis every other employee in Oregon, or for that matter in all of America. For everyone else, the law simply says that a benefit earned to date cannot be reduced or eliminated; however, future benefits can be altered changed or eliminated. But then, not every other employee in Oregon works for the government of Oregon — at least not yet.

The last report issued by the PERS administrators indicated that the future unfunded liability for PERS was $16.5 Billion — that is an amount that rivals the entire biennial general funds budget for Oregon. It is an amount that places a number of smaller counties, communities and school districts in a position of technical bankruptcy.

It is also an amount that commands a first priority in government spending. In 1989, the Oregon legislature enacted new laws to make sure public employers paid their PERS contributions promptly. Those new laws provided that if a public employer did not pay its PERS assessment, it must pay interest on the delinquent amount and, after the deficiency is certified to the Oregon Department of Administrative Services by the PERS Board, all funds in the State Treasury that the delinquent public employer is legally entitled to must be withheld until the PERS deficiency is paid. (See: ORS 238.705) That legislation made PERS funding Oregon’s highest financial priority, more important than public safety, public education, or any other service provided by the State. By giving first priority of payment to PERS, the governor and legislators, all of whom are eligible beneficiaries of PERS, secured their own interest at the expense of the citizens of Oregon.

Today in Oregon, welfare payments are reduced because PERS must be funded first. Staffing levels for schools, law enforcement and prisons have been reduced because PERS must be funded first. Payments to child welfare agencies and the developmentally disabled have been reduced because PERS must be funded first.

When Oregonians look around as to why public services have been reduced or eliminated it is not because they don’t pay enough taxes, it is because the mandatory benefits to public employees have become too great — not only too great, but, apparently, beyond remedy.

Oregon government no longer exists for the benefit of the people, it exists primarily for the preservation of its own power and the benefit of its own government class.

It is corrupt — and in this instance corrupt at all levels.

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  • Steve Plunk

    NPR ran a series this week concerning underfunded pensions throughout the states and local governments. We’re screwed. Not only have our elected representatives given away the farm but the greedy public sector workers feel entitled to the largess they have scored. The government class will now bankrupt us all so prepare for fewer government services from your tax dollars and more 50 year old retired government people lounging at the country club. Our politicians were duped and we’ll pay the price.

  • Bob Clark

    Maybe just as big a problem is state government employees and other local government employees pay

    nothing towards their healthcare insurance, and this insurance covers most all healthcare expenses. It’s

    obvious government employees are getting paid significantly too much. I can’t see why government

    employees should be allowed to unionize with group compensation bargaining power. It’s not like the

    government willy nilly fires, or abuses, employees. Once past 1 year probation a government employee

    has to act pretty criminal to get permanently fired.

    I think you cut state employee pay by 10 percent and still retain most employees, and even the highest

    “quality” employees.

  • Bill Sizemore

    Well said, Larry. One caveat: The PERS problem did not come to light in 2002. Bob Tienan and I (with Ruth Bendl’s tireless work and Loren Park’s financial assisatance) brought this issue to the forefront way back in 1994 with Measure 8, which the Supreme Court, all of which were on PERS, tossed. Measure 8, which I wrote, among othe things eliminated the eight percent guaranteed rate of return that today is breaking the bank. We predicted this mess 16 years ago.

    The PERS debacle is incontrovertible evidence that the bank has been robbed and is continuing to be robbed and that it is our elected officials and the unions that put them in office who are doing the robbing.

  • davidg

    I agree with Larry and Steve that if nothing changes then the future looks bleak.

    But neither Larry nor Steve address the issue of what can be done.

    So, what can be done? If the Oregon Supreme Court says the state constitution requires that we jump off a cliff, then we need a change to the constitution. The legislature obviously won’t do anything about the PERS problem. That is what initiatives are for. I don’t see any immediate groundswell for such an initiative, but the time is surely coming. We can at least start talking about what that initiative will look like.

    On a local level, (although it’s been a while since I checked) PERS membership was not mandatory for local governments. There are a small number of local governments throughout the state that aren’t enrolled in PERS. As renewal of public employee contracts roll around, local governments could bar new employees from being members of PERS, and instead set up 401k’s, or the equivalent, for them. Where local governing boards balk, citizens could by initiative require new contracts to provide that new employees be so enrolled.

    I don’t know if by initiative the citizens could require that in future contracts for existing employees, existing employees must also enroll in 401’s for their future retirement benefits (retaining only accrued PERS benefits from the PERS system). But that is a legal question worth looking into.

    When the rules are stacked against you, it’s time to change the rules. Changes at the state level may be different from what can be done at the local level. It certainly will require some creative thinking to find the best way to make such changes, but I haven’t yet heard any better ideas. We know what will happen if we do nothing.

  • retired UO science prof

    The problem, as usual with Larry Huss, is that he proposes nothing in the way of solutions. I and one or two others here have proposed some admittedly modest steps that might help ease the PERS problem.

    To davidg: Assuming Larry’s account is correct as to why the state supreme court ruled as it did — a constituional amendment now is unlikely to be held by the court to nullify the contractual obligation the court has ruled the State undertook. More wishful thinking.

    You guys can rail against the unions all you want. Pretend that the unions, not the voters, are giving the Dems their insurmountable majorities. Fantasize that the M66/67 votes were really wins for the Republicans. Ditto Obamacare. The fact is, you are losing one battle after another. You better figure out something new, or you are doomed.

    • Steve Plunk

      You mean we are doomed.

      • retired UO science prof

        I mean the Republicans and conservatives are doomed if they keep going like this, especially in Oregon, where they are particularly clueless.

        If by “we” you mean the state or the country, no, we’re not doomed. We will survive Obamacare, if it isn’t overturned. In fifty years it will seem as natural here as it does elsewhere. Not that I was in favor of it, but we will survive it.

        Ditto the state financial problems. If need be, we all will tighten our belts on state services for a while. In 30 years, it will almost be forgotten.

        • surefot

          I do not know Mr. Huss, but could it be he failed to save enough for a pleasant retirement and are just resentful of the ones who have some money for their older years?

          • retired UO science prof

            I think he’s done OK for himself, he was head of US West in Oregon. (Now Qwest). The point has been made here that fat cats make poor spokesmen for taking after public employees.

          • Socialworker75

            Who do you believe a public employee or some rich person with an agenda? Who is watching out for the little guy? No one! Liberals and conservatives are one in the same. Really, what’s the difference? Corrupt public employee union, greedy rich people. SAME AS IT EVER WAS! Your arguments are old and tired. Oregon is corrupt beyond belief it just has liberals committing the sins instead of say conservatives in a state like Utah or Colorado. What’s the difference between Vince McMahon and G W Bush or Obama or for that matter Ron Wyden and Ted Kulongoski? NOTHING! We are arguing over fake issues and fake solutions. Just like pro wrestling Oregon/Federal politics are fixed. The winners are whoever happens to be the flavor of the month.

  • Not a Nice Guy

    Hey Retired OU Prof! Just look at what is going on in New Jersey. They are cutting the public piggie unions off at the knees. No more fat pensions for new employees and no more gaming the system for extra pension money with accrued vacation or sick leave time. And likely a cut in benefits for those currently on the pension dole. Sorry – but those so-called “pension contracts” are simply pieces of paper that can be trashed when the money is no longer there.

    • retired UO science prof

      No, you’re not a nice guy, and apparently you’re not very bright, either.

      The stuff in New Jersey is all about NEW employees, as far as I can tell. We’ve ALREADY done most of that stuff in Oregon. In fact, in NJ they will still have defined benefit pensions for full-time new employees.

      Your talk about reneging on the old contracts is just that, with hot air included.

      Let me tell you something else: to have any hope of getting the cooperation of the public employees in Oregon, you’re going to have to stop the trash talk about “piggies” and retired people (like me perhaps?) being on the dole. It just alienates people (like me perhaps?), and look where it’s gotten you guys.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        >Let me tell you something else: to have any hope of getting the cooperation of the public employees in Oregon, you’re going to have to stop the trash talk about “piggie

        Well, one could just as easily say the same to you.

        All the trash talk about corporations not paying their fair share, greedy CEO’s and the like hasn’t served you guys very well either.

        Just look at measure 67, when public employees did entire ad campaigns with trash talk that corporations only pay $10 a year in taxes.

        And what did it get you? Business moving out, some of the worst unemployment in the country and almost zero job growth outside of the public sector.

        Sure, it might be nice to not trash talk public employees, but please, don’t ask some guy on a blog to think about his trash talking when you guys run whole ad campaigns of nothing but trash talk. It’s really a little much.

        In the end, remember, you need us a whole lot more than we need you. You guys keep it up, and you wont have any job base to pay taxes for your lavish retirement. Any idiot can attract people to work in the public sector with its above average pay and ridiculous retirement.

        Attracting business and the tax base it provides to pay for all of that takes a lot more skill. So far public employees have demonstrated nothing much but their ability to destroy that tax base.

        And now you guys are moaning about who will pay your retirement.

        Some guy trash talking on a blog might result in a loss of some retired UO professors vote. However the union trash talking has put in jeopardy your own retirement. Not exactly a clever move.

        Might want to think about that a little.

        • retired UO science prof

          Well, it appears to me that the voters heard your side, and the other side, and decided pretty decisively who was doing the trash act.

          And don’t assume that I was part of the public employee ad campaigns. i wasn’t, I was never as a faculty member in a union. As I have said here, I’m an ex-Republican. Don’t assume anything about how I voted on those tax measures. I’m simply diagnosing why your side keeps losing.

          And don’t even assume anything about my pension. As I’ve said here before, for better or worse, I got out of PERS when I had the chance in 1997. After that, everything went into a defined contribution plan. It can’t be taken from me, even if the state goes bankrupt. And before I moved to work at UO, I was in a defined contribution plan at another university. Plus I have investment and business income. I have a dog or two in the PERS issue, but not as much at stake as you would like to think.

          • eagle eye

            Prof, you make an interesting point about defined contribution plans — this could help ease the PERS problem, I even heard Chris Dudley talking about this on radio the other night — but this might be beyond the comprehension of a lot of people. Or at least their attention. A lot of them enjoy their rants much too much to think about actual solutions.

          • RUpert in Springfield

            >Well, it appears to me that the voters heard your side, and the other side, and decided pretty decisively who was doing the trash act.

            Or it could simply be a case of trash talking works.

            My comment wasn’t about how you voted or what retirement plan you were on personally. My comment was about the fact that it is hardly the case that there is only trash talking on one side.

            My comment was that your side has done plenty of trash talking and if you think it is winning over people that would be a real hard argument to make. The polls show nothing but falling support for almost any Democrat position you care to name.

            Your legislation? It only passes by the skin of its teeth or after a pitched battle. Hardly a great vote of confidence.

            Sure, trash talking got measure 67 enacted, you guys won. However I doubt even you would think that did not come at a price.

            That price will be paid in November. And I doubt anyone is arguing you guys will be the ones pickup up seats either statewide or nationally.

            You guys won big in ’08, no one is going to deny you that. However that was about the extent of it. Your policies are unpopular by any reading of the polls and your legislation is hardly sailing through on a float of goodwill.

            The bottom line is winning an election is great, but you are seriously mistaken if you think that there is a sea change of public support for your positions. That just simply isn’t there. Republicans have been in a position of being able to do little but oppose Democrat positions, either state wide or nationally. In the span of a year and a half they have gone from a totally defeated party to one people are willing to vote for simply to stop your policies, as in the MA senate race and the Virginia gov race.

            You won in ’08, your mistake is in thinking legislative success is the equivalent of popular support.

          • retired UO science prof

            Amazing, you assume I supported those measures. You don’t know whether I did or not. As I’ve said more than once, I’m a former (recent) Republican. I was never a union member in my years as a public employee. It was just an accident that I happened to move to a public university.

            I’m just telling you guys how unrealistic you are and how you keep screwing things up because of your unrealistic, somewhat delusionary reading of public perceptions and attitudes. I’m trying to help you out! But you won’t listen. Either too dense, or you enjoy losing too much. At some point maybe you’ll be ready to change.

          • RUpert in Springfield

            And at some point maybe you could actually get over yourself and realize I am using the term “you” in a general sense and not specifically to you yourself.

            The same way you used it. You – as in your side, not you as in you personally.

            I even stated so explicitly.

            Here is the quote – “My comment wasn’t about how you voted or what retirement plan you were on personally. My comment was about the fact that it is hardly the case that there is only trash talking on one side.

            But I do note you dont have much of an argument other than insulting me and calling me dense.

            This is especially ironic given that this thread was about trash talking.

          • Anonymous

            Hey, look, you said “don’t ask some guy on a blog to think about his trash talking when you guys run whole ad campaigns of nothing but trash talk”

            Now this guy started out about piggie and dole, and you stepped in to defend him, and even put me in with “you guys” who ran “ad campaigns”, when of course I had nothing to do with any such thing. So get off it with the innocent act.

        • surefoot

          China wants in on the Construction, Building and other handyman type work done in the U.S. market. In the preliminary feasibility study China would like the Congress to pass a bill giving China the right to set up Chinese prison camps around the U.S., China would not be locking up any U.S. citizen but would bring Chinese prisoner from China and keep them here where feeding them constitute their pay. These prisoners would be under Chinese law and discipline like an Embassy of sort. If one of these prisons were in Rapid City and say you needed some work done around your property you could hire them at around $3 an hour instead of the guy up the street at $8 an hour. This coat savings would then stimulate the U.S. economy.

    • Garnet

      I’m another retired faculty member. I got out in 2001 with a decent retirement thanks in part to the excellent returns that PERS made from the overheated dotcom stock market, but the reforms of 2003 tried to take back some of my pension. The jury’s still out on some of those “reforms,” but the PERS that exists now is drastically different than the one that I joined in the early 70s.

      My son now works in the system but is in tier 2, so his retirement is a combination of a defined benefit and a defined contribution. The first two years he worked at OSU, his retirement fund went down because of the market declines. He was quite dismayed to know that he actually owed PERS money until the fund finally earned something in his third year of employment. Now, there is a tier 3, which is a total defined contribution, or 401k, and the people who joined after 2003 have PERS retirement benefits that are subject completely to the ups and the downs of PERS investments.

      The Oregon Supreme Court judges are in a separate system from PERS, so don’t assume that their decisions about PERS in any way are influenced by their membership in their own system. The PERS of today is very different from the PERS I was in. It has been 14 years since tier 1, the system that I am in, has accepted any new members. Our numbers are decreasing daily as people die and as the old timers retire.

      PERS is not the culprit in the financial crisis that affects the state of Oregon. Aim your vitriol at the businesses that don’t pay their employees well and that don’t provide decent benefits and retirements. By the way, most PERS beneficiaries do not receive completely free benefits. I paid extra for my benefits for 30 years. I still pay for my health insurance as a retiree, and so does my wife, another faculty member. Also, my college faculty did not belong to a union, so don’t blame the state’s financial woes on the influence of unions on collective bargaining.

      Finally, Mr. Huss’s real gripe is with the way that Oregon taxes people like him. Maybe he should move to Arizona where he can find more ways to dodge the tax bite that hits millionaires here in Oregon.

      • Anonymous

        PERS is not self supporting and or sustainable .

        Oregon has a spending problem, we can’t keep spendiing, more than we have.

  • RUpert in Springfield

    Really what it comes down to is pretty simple. The contractual obligations of PERS simply cannot be met.

    PERS retirees look at it from one perspective – too bad, the legislature made a bad deal and you have to stick to it. That may be true, and in fact is, but at the end of the day you simply can’t get blood from a stone. The expectation that the populace will accept sky high taxes and large cuts in services to pay for the bloated retirement of a few is simply unrealistic and frankly not possible. People just simply will not drive themselves into the poor house and ruin their retirement to pay for a sweetheart deal for others.

    So what to do?

    Frankly legal maneuvers such as constitutional amendments or new legislation will probably be ineffective. At this stage the only thing is to consider bankruptcy and reorganize the debt obligation on that basis. PERS retirees will get something, and that’s fair. Will they get the full amount? No.

    State bankruptcy might sound drastic, but that is really only by comparison. NYC was in that state in the 70’s and it was pretty depressing, but eventually emerged. This time around it would be hard, but there will be more than a few other states probably doing the same thing. In the near future it is probable that state bankruptcy will hardly be considered uncommon. More and more states will use it to get out of their retirement obligations.

    What would be the fallout? Well, for one the state would have a harder time borrowing money. That would not be a bad thing. We are in this predicament in the first place because of too much borrowing.

    The sooner we start looking at that as an option, the better as far as I am concerned. Twiddling our thumbs and hoping that all of a sudden all those green jobs we have been promised will come to Oregon and provide a tax base to get us out of this hole is simply wishful thinking.

    Business moving in to Oregon in droves would be the only thing that could provide the tax base we would need to pay our obligations. The income taxes from the resulting jobs could provide the funds to pay those obligations. However the only thing that would create the vast migration of business to Oregon that we need would be an elimination of corporate taxes and taxes on investment.

    The problem with that solution, reducing business and investment taxes, is that in the end it would be more horrifying to the legislature than declaring bankruptcy and thus is less realistic.

    We are coming up on fish or cut bait time. State employees have consistently thrown their weight behind higher and higher taxes and with that they are cutting their own throat. Business has less and less reason to stay here with each tax increase and all the more incentive to move.

    The future for PERS is two options – reduced benefits with state bankruptcy or the possibility of full benefits from an increased tax base garnered by attracting business. If state employees want to keep throwing their weight behind higher and higher taxes I have zero sympathy for them when they find out the obvious. People aren’t going to sacrifice their future through confiscatory taxation to support the lavish retirement system of another.

    State employees have tremendous power in Oregon. When they start belly aching about the lack of a tax base in Oregon to support them they need only look in the mirror as to why that is. They made their bed, let them sleep in it.

    • retired UO science prof

      As has been pointed out by me and others, the state bankruptcy talk is just crazy talk. For one thing, it is far from clear that the state is anywhere in danger of “bankruptcy”. For another, it’s not clear what it means for a state to go bankrupt, whether that is even possible. Revert to territory status? Some people in California, which really is in a bad way, are talking about that.

      Even if a state goes into some kind of federal receivership, it’s far from clear that bankruptcy would be a good thing. What would ensue, an asset sale? You don’t want to go there if you’re sane.

      • RUpert in Springfield

        >As has been pointed out by me and others, the state bankruptcy talk is just crazy talk.

        And has been pointed out by me it is hardly crazy talk as there is historical precident for it.

        NYC went through bankruptcy in the 70’s. It certainly had a larger population than Oregon and probably had a larger budget. So lets stop pretending that the process is unheard of.

        In addition, as I said, bankruptcy will be considered a far more viable option in the near future. Oregon is not the only state in this position. Many states will consider it and possibly some will go through with it.

        > talk is just crazy talk. For one thing, it is far from clear that the state is anywhere in danger of “bankruptcy”. For another, it’s not clear what it means for a state to go bankrupt, whether that is even possible. Revert to territory status?

        Hmm, I don’t recall Manhattan reverting to any sort of wild prairie in the 70’s.

        I am virtually certain we did not have a group of native Americans at the Holland tunnel asking for their $40 back.

        >Even if a state goes into some kind of federal receivership, it’s far from clear that bankruptcy would be a good thing. What would ensue, an asset sale? You don’t want to go there if you’re sane.

        Ok, so now I see where you are coming from.

        You are under some serious misunderstandings about bankruptcy.

        There are several levels of bankruptcy, the two most commonly known are called chapter 7 and chapter 11. You are assuming chapter 7, which is not what we are talkuing about here.

        Under chapter 7, the company is dissolved, assets are sold and debtors are paid off according to a schedule or as a percentage of the debt they hold.

        Under chapter 11, the debtor retains assets and debt is restructured and operates a business so as to pay back the debt. this is probably what would be a good option for Oregon.

        Chapter 13 might be another option. Under that plan debt can be discharged, however there are limits on the amount of debt that can be discharged.

        When I use the term “bankruptcy” I am using it to encompass all bankruptcy options. I am not using it in the form you may have taken it – total dissolution of the entity declaring bankruptcy under chapter 7.

        People can face facts or not. But the fact is Oregon has two options – create a business climate that will grow a tax base to support what is needed to pay off PERS retirees, or declare bankruptcy. That’s it.

        Since Oregon has made it clear it will not lower business or investment taxes, it has made clear growing the tax base is not an option. This is where the trash talking of the unions has resulted in them shooting themselves in the foot. They trash talked business so much that it is far easier to lure business away than it is to get one to move here.

        Therefore bankruptcy will very soon be the only option left.

        You think you can raise taxes on people with 10% unemployment and zero job growth outside of government?

        That’s the crazy talk.

        • retired UO science prof

          The recitation of the various bankruptcy laws is hilarious, since those laws don’t apply to states.

          State bankruptcy really is uncharted territory. Just look at what is being written about California, by people who know something about the law.

          You really want the Obama administrration administering Oregon and its debts?

          Anyway, bankruptcy is not really in the cards, as people as different as the valley p and Plunk note.

          You might think the voters are the crazy ones. But you’ll have to convince them.

          • RUpert in Springfield

            >The recitation of the various bankruptcy laws is hilarious, since those laws don’t apply to states.

            Um right, that’s why I brought them up, because you were trying to apply chapter 7, total dissolution, to the states when you remarked on the reverting to territories.

            Ok, so now that you are the one who brought it up, me pointing out there are different forms of bankruptcy is hilarious somehow?

            That’s not much of an argument. Its more an indication you had not considered your initial “reverting to territories” argument very well and did not like having pointed out to you that bankruptcy can take a lot of forms.

            Sorry you hadn’t considered that, but at least now you have the facts.

            >State bankruptcy really is uncharted territory.

            Could we move away from this? This point has been made and rebutted. New York City with a population and budget both greater than all of Oregon went through it in the 70’s

            To keep insisting on this uncharted territory nonsense is starting to get a little silly.

            It might not have a thoroughly clear path, but it is hardly uncharted. No one is saying it would be easy, but it is hardly impossible. My point is it will most likely become an option considered more and more frequently. Oregon is not the only state in this situation, although other states may have a less explicitly anti business philosophy than us, thus have other options.

            >You might think the voters are the crazy ones. But you’ll have to convince them.

            Who mentioned the voters? I was saying your talk was crazy talk, not the voters. You want to be in denial that there is precedent for this sort of thing and go on with nonsense about states reverting to territories? Fine, that’s the crazy talk.

            I just simply think bankruptcy in coming years will be more common for states and it will become a more viable option.

    • valley

      Can a state declare bankruptcy simply because it does not want to pay obligations? There is a big difference between we don’t want to pay and we can’t pay. If the economy never recovers, then maybe legitimately we can’t pay. If it does recover we probably can, even if it means raising taxes and cutting other spending.

      And no…I’m not on a state pension and not eligible for one.

    • Steve Plunk

      I agree with Rupert on our problems but I doubt bankruptcy will be allowed. Taxpayers are unlikely to approve more taxes so the result will be a drastic reduction in government services to keep the fat cat retirees happy.

      So while those who took advantage if a naive legislature are living comfortably the new generation of teachers, public works employees, and perhaps even college professors will find themselves over worked and underpaid compared to their predecessors. That will breed some goodwill.

      When moms around Oregon get angry about 35 kids in the third grade class I’ll be quick to let them know where the blame lies. When my neighbor complains about potholes not being filled I’ll tell him why the city can’t afford to. When it takes two hours for the police to respond to a call I mention to everyone why there’s no money to hire more. Retirees will have bankrupted the entire state and don’t really give a darn as long as their checks keep rolling in.

      Services are going to decline and people are going to be angry. They will eventually see where their anger should be directed.

      • eagle eye

        I like that “perhaps even college professors will find themselves over worked and underpaid compared to their predecessors.” Your hatred of college professors always comes through.

        Of course, in Oregon the college faculty are the major large group of public employees who actually are underpaid, compared to the national market.

        If you’re really serious, get your local public bodies to cut back public employee compensation to what you think are reasonable levels. Freeze the pay of the many Tier 1 PERS employees. Stop whining about non-existent bankruptcy, and instead do something. Be like the Democrats!

        • Steve Plunk

          Eagle, I don’t hate college professors. I find them arrogant and pompous. I developed more of a distaste while in school as I watch them take advantage of their position to woo coeds. Both sexes. If these professionals could not or would not police their own I wonder why they were held in such high regard. Sorry I bring them up so much but I believe many of them to be misleading our youth as well. Underpaid? They are lined up for every job that comes available. That’s a sign of too much pay.

          I didn’t really whine about bankruptcy. I don’t believe it’s an option though I would like to be wrong. The funny thing about getting local jurisdictions to deal with the PERS problem is they believe the legislature should do the work. Don’t blame us they say. I blame both.

          Like I said, I believe the PERS crunch will eventually force a cut in services as it will be the only way to balance the books. Some will complain and I will point them to the public sector retirees playing golf at the country club and say ask them where the money is going.

          • retired UO science prof

            “I don’t hate college professors. I find them arrogant and pompous.”

            Ah, thanks for the clarification.

            As for the professors seducing the students, admittedly my circle of acquaintances was limited, but in 20+ years at UO I personally knew professor who did that — actually, not with a student –and he got fired for sexual harassment. Admittedly, he did more than merely seduce the person. And are professors supposed to police each other on this? We have absolutely no authority over this (other than voting against tenure or promotion). It’s a matter between the professor, the accuser, and the administration. Period.

            And your knowledge of how the job market works is completely lacking. Just let me say this: at UO, we have (had for me) a lot of trouble attracting and retaining the people we want, given the uncompetitive salaries. eagle eye gets it — but you just have no clue about how the market really works. I could explain more.

  • skippy

    All the wild claims of businesses leaving Oregon because of taxes is wrong. It is pretty tough to recruit a business to another state because Oregon does not have a sales tax. It is more expensive to run a business with a sales tax. That’s because businesses typically pay about 35% of sales taxes on their expense sheet in those other states. The lack of a sales tax is the biggest reason Oregon business taxes are ranked 5th lowest out of all 50 states.

    Oregon faces a $2.5 billion shortfall in the 2011-2013 budget.

    The state will be looking for more budget cuts and tax increases at the same time.

    Almost every state in the union is in the same leaking boat. Of course the federal government would have to do another rescue.

    If you can find a tax haven for businesses tell the rest of us with facts – actual facts.

    PERS reform takes real work not belly aching.

    • RUpert in Springfield

      The states that have lured business away from Oregon with lower taxes have been pointed out to you endlessly Dean.

      This usually results in some form of misdirection from you. Generally that takes the form of you making fun of the state luring the business away and things devolve from there.

      PERS reform takes a lot of things, but some guy popping off as if he is totally unaware of business being moved out of Oregon, or pretending he has not had those facts listed for him endlessly is not one of them.

      • valley p

        Rupert Flub number 1 today. You just responded to a post thinking it was me, and it wasn’t. I don’t know who skippy is, but I know he or she is not me. You apparently failed to take your “maybe I shouldn’t be so sure of myself” pill this morning.

        But now that you mention it, yes you have offered Frieghtliner moving employees to South Carolina once or twice as your example of the reverse wagon train that is just around the corner. Of course, SC’s unemployment rate is higher than ours, and their business friendly tax rating lower, even after 66 and 67.

        And I’ll point out (again due to your memory problems) that 85% or more of Oregon’s businesses are either retail-service that have to be where the customers are (here) or production that takes advantage of an Oregon location, like a filbert farmer, a pinot grape grower, timber company, commercial fishermen (dang hard to move your boat to South Dakota or grow trees there,) or a subsidized energy sucking business like your own that takes advantage of taxpayer built and financed cheap hydro electric power. Have you penciled out the electric rates in SC on what that would do to your own bottom line by the way? I didn’t think so.

        So you and others may be disappointed in the lack of the business exodus you keep predicting.

        • RUpert in Springfield

          >Rupert Flub number 1 today. You just responded to a post thinking it was me, and it wasn’t.

          Yawn – you are seriously trying this one again?

          As for Freightliner, we have been over this. They specifically cited taxes and business envioroment as why they were moving, With the attorney generals actions who can blame them.
          We have been over SC endlessly. Yes, we know you have your tax ratings, but sorry, no one beleives you when we can hear from the company itself why it is moving. Sorry, I think they know more about why they leave than you do.

          Anyway, I will warn you again, you would look a lot less like the insecure guy if you didnt start off every comment with an attempt at insult.

          >So you and others may be disappointed in the lack of the business exodus you keep predicting

          Well, we do keep listing them here.

          And you guys keep living in denial.

          I think yesterday the closed up a Saks store in Portland.

          You guys have been terrific for business, lol

          • valley p

            “Yawn – you are seriously trying this one again?”

            Trying what? Correcting your mistakes? You are right. Its a hopeless venture. Nevertheless someone needs to inject reality into you from time to time.

            “Yes, we know you have your tax ratings,”

            It wasn’t MY tax rating. Its from a pro business, anti tax group. I sent you the citation several times.

            “I think yesterday the closed up a Saks store in Portland. ”

            Stores come and go. Do you take the same notice when a new store opens or expands?

            “You guys have been terrific for business, lol ”

            We guys, if you mean progressive democrats, are 100% responsible for the taxpayer subsidized electrical rates that allow you to make a buck off your energy sucking business. You should be thanking us instead of biting the hand that feeds you.

  • rural resident

    *A recent national survey indicated that nearly eighty percent of the American public would favor getting rid of the president and all of the members of Congress.*

    And after they put new people in their place, they would shortly be just as angry at the new people (who would act just like the old people, because much of what happens has to do with the system, not the participants) and they’d want to throw out the new group. And so on, ad infinitum.

    The problem is the system. Too much need to raise money leads to too much fealty to special interests (that’s where the money is, folks). 50% of the people want one thing, the other 50% the exact opposite. And nobody, especially the conservatives, is willing to compromise. The result is that really creative (but not very telegenic) people won’t (or can’t) run because they’re not willing to be put in a position where they can’t do anything that makes a real difference.

    • surefoot

      It was that way right after the revolutionary war and still is, but if Mr. Huss had his way he would straighten it all out and the top 10% of the wealthy would own everything and after 10 year of serfdom to this top 10% you would earn the right to some kind of trade.

  • Anonymous

    I do not know Mr. Huss, but could it be he failed to save enough for a pleasant retirement and are just resentful of the ones who have some money for their older years?
    # surefot on 2010-03-24 16:07

    Yeah like all the public employees saved for theirs?

    Do you have any idea how mush one would have to save to fund a retirement that guarantees 60, 70, 100, or 110k per year from the early to mid 50s for the rest of ones life?

    I’m pretty sure it would take a couple or a few million.

    That’s what the taxpayers are stuck with paying to PERS recipients.

    Some segments of public employees in Oregon are the top recipients int he country.

    It would have been entirely fair and affordable to fund retirements at a lower level, period.

    But politicians were bought and paid for to bring PERS and others the money.

    • eagle eye

      If you want that kind of retirement, do what the public employees did: have 15% or so of your total compensation go into a retirement account every month; put it all in the stock market during a boom like the Reagan-Clinton years. Then you too will get a great pension. Not as great as you think — very few did all of this just right, and had the good fortune to retire at just the right time — but pretty great. All it takes is some discipline and luck.

  • skippy

    I am not valley. What a dumb statement Rupert. Next you’ll be calling me Bill Bradbury.

    • eagle eye

      Or Chris Dudley!

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