2017 PERS rate increases: Growing cost to Oregon schools

Sen. Tim Knopp_thb

Sen. Tim Knopp

PERS rates projected to almost double in next 9 years

Salem, Ore. – Last week, Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) responded to the adoption of 2017 Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) advisory rates estimated to cost school districts already reeling from a $1.785 billion shortfall in 2015-2017. Bend-La Pine School District faces a 3.76% to 4.76% rate increase, and Redmond School District faces a 3.87% to 4.87% rate increase.

“These expected PERS cost increases will force school districts to lay off teachers, increase class sizes, and cut more school days,” explained Knopp. “We cannot ask our schools to shoulder an even greater PERS burden while legislative leaders continue to ignore the looming $5 billion liability local governments and school districts will be forced to pay. The 2016 session is our last chance to enact constitutional reforms before the bill for Oregon’s $5 billion PERS liability comes due.”

Without additional reforms, PERS rates are projected to continue increasing until 2024, when they would be almost double the 2015 rates. Senator Knopp will introduce legislation in 2016 to constitutionally reform PERS and save the state and local governments from a looming fiscal cliff totaling $5 billion. Possible reforms include the creation of a defined contribution plan for future employees, redirecting employee contributions, and using a market rate for money match annuities.

“The majority party already uses Oregon’s K-12 budget as a political pawn, underfunding education to pay for other bloated agency budgets,” said Knopp. “The legislature must fix PERS now and protect our greatest asset – our children and their education.”