Oregonians invited to participate in bipartisan PERS solutions work group


Sen. Tim Knopp and Sen. Betsy Johnson

Salem, Ore. – Recognizing that significant Oregon challenges require strong bipartisan teamwork and solutions, Senator Betsy Johnson (D – Scappoose) and Senator Tim Knopp (R – Bend) invite interested Oregonians to participate in a Bipartisan PERS Solutions Work Group to study and make recommendations to address the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) funding crisis. Currently, state and local governments face an $885 million increase in PERS costs starting July 1, 2017. Editorial boards across the state have called for leadership to address this issue.

“PERS cost increases in 2017 could result in fewer teachers and school days, larger class sizes, and the inability to fully fund other critical government services in 2017,” said Senator Knopp. “We must adopt fair, constitutional PERS solutions during the 2017 session that reduce costs and strengthen our K-12 education system.”

“Oregon needs bipartisan PERS solutions that are legal, fair, and protect our schools,” said Senator Johnson. “A public work group will allow a thorough vetting of all proposals informed by advocates from diverse perspectives.”

The new Bipartisan PERS Solutions Work Group will hold public hearings and craft a comprehensive PERS solutions package that is bipartisan, fair, constitutional, and that protects government services. Representatives from schools, local governments, public employee unions, businesses, and other concerned Oregonians will be invited to serve as members. The work group will hold its first meeting during September legislative days to hear from experts on PERS’ unfunded liabilities, impacts of upcoming PERS cost increases, savings options that reduce unfairness in the PERS system, constitutional guidelines, and take input from local governments and PERS members.

The Oregon Supreme Court has made clear that it is unconstitutional to take away accrued benefits, but prospective PERS changes are legal. As such, Senators Johnson and Knopp noted, “In compliance with the Oregon Supreme Court’s constitutional interpretation, no PERS solutions can affect retired PERS members, and all PERS changes must be prospective.”

“If you have an opinion on PERS, we want to hear from you,” said Senators Johnson and Knopp. “The Bipartisan PERS Solutions Work Group continues Oregon’s long tradition of transparent, bipartisan teamwork on big problems facing our state. Please join us.”

The first meeting of the Bipartisan PERS Solutions Work Group will be September 21 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM at the Oregon State Capitol Building in Hearing Room 174. At the first meeting, the work group will hear presentations about how the PERS system works, its current financial situation, upcoming rate increases, and Oregon laws governing the PERS system. Any interested Oregonian is welcome to attend.

Anyone interested in serving as a member of the work group should email Senator Betsy Johnson’s Office at [email protected] or Senator Tim Knopp’s Office at [email protected]

Bipartisan PERS Solutions Work Group First Meeting

September 21, 3-5 p.m.
Hearing Room 174
Oregon State Capitol Building
900 Court St. NE
Salem, OR 97301

  • Bob Clark

    I would be interested in how other states are addressing this issue, in particular California. California worked some how with its state unions I hear to bring their PERS liabilities under a path of better financial stability. The relation between state government and the public employee unions might be more restrictive here than in California.

    • Connie Kosuda

      chris christie / NJ ended the public pension payouts, and wonder of wonders it was deemed ‘legal’ / sounds good to me!

      everyone who works is entitled to a pension, or no one is.

      • TVF&R

        No one is “entitled” to a pension. If u work then you get social security because you paid into it. Public and private pensions are part of an overall compensation package that sometimes involve less salary up front in exchange for a better pay out if you have the loyalty and longevity to stick with a company or position (cop, teacher, public service) for the long haul. Nobody complained about (cops/teachers/firemen) pensions until it became better than the private sector’s deal. As long as the private sectors deal was good, no one cared.

        • Connie Kosuda

          yeah, we all are / we all get a pension, or no one does / especially, when you can see the impact herein / the funds which belong to ALL of us are being used to benefit just a few /

          truly disgusting.

          • TVF&R

            Not sure I’m following you, the funds that belong to ALL of us are benefiting just a few?

          • Yankee Panky

            Amen, alas, Connie Kosuda thinks what’s greener albeit her gas can be fartier than Yogi Berra can air.

          • Ntp speak american

            No trolling please

          • Yankee from your pantry

            Who’s bankrolling ewe?

          • Ntp

            Speak American…..troll

          • Applause please, urf, urf

            Fjord fender yours withing grasp of a Norgevegan trolling like Svede-like ewes in estrous for a Finland, even a horny reindeer estranged from Santa’s corral. .

          • TTP

            unintelligible, baffling, incomprehensible…..Troll

          • bill

            Where did you ever get the idea that the money in PERS belonged to “All”? The money in PERS came into PERS initially as part of the employees compensation and then increased by investment of that money. After we all received the services of these employees they were paid and it was then their money, some of it went into PERS (not their choice but by contract with employer). The problem now is public employers are having to pay in to make up for lower than “assumed” earnings on the investments. In the past a number of expensive promises were made to employees and the Supreme Court found that the promises are contract. New employees do not get these promises. Public employees are not the bad guys and in reality most do not get ridiculous pensions. The assumed rate is too high and if lowered it will cost the employers even more. That is the problem. If returns on investments were to improve the problem would correct it self.

          • Connie Kosuda
          • bill

            CK, Re your reply: “this might help”. Help what? I understand what an annuity is and basics of the pension system. Please be a bit more specific to the subject and detail what your issue is with my original comment.

          • Connie Kosuda

            it’s in there / it’s founded upon a gross violation of civil liberties / is based upon bigotry, discrimination and racism, is, in short, ‘fatally flawed’. null and void.

          • That part?

            The Governor’s Task Force on Employee Benefits convened on April 1, 1994. The task force reviewed more than just PERS, looking at all state employee benefits such as retirement, insurance, and paid time off. The purpose was to see if the total compensation of state employees was in line with the market. The task force concluded that total compensation was nearly equal, with benefits somewhat higher and salaries somewhat lower than those of equivalent private-sector worker.

        • Connie Kosuda

          it’s discriminatory in its inception / it fails the smell test / it’s invalid.

          Christie (God help us) had a point.

    • oregongrown

      Bob Clark:

      Other states are facing the problem head on; one example Rhode Island, whose public pensions were hijacked by the greed contingent just like in Oregon.

      Time Magazine Dec 2011

      “The Little State That Could”
      By David Von Drehle,

      Re: Rhode Island

      10% of this year’s state revenues went to cover the shortfall just for the pensions in Rhode Island:Then Central Falls went bankrupt.

      Central Falls, Rhode Island (Pop 18,716) – went bankrupt, the pensions drained all of the money out of the operating

      “In Rhode Island in 1960, a retiree could retire at age 60 with a pension equal to about half of working salary”… life expectancy was 70 years. “By 1990, life spans were five
      years longer, yet the RETIREMENT AGE HAD DROPPED TO 50. The maximum initial pension had jumped to 80% of
      salary”… with math like that on your side, retiring from a government job in Rhode Island, quickly became more
      lucrative than working at one.”

      “the report noted…”retired public employees can routinely earn retirement benefits that exceed 100% of their final average earnings.”

      “Boldest of all, the changes applied to current retirees, not
      just future ones.”

      Rhode Island Treasurer (at the time the reforms were made) ,
      Gina Raimondo, showing leadership, basically asked everyone if they wanted to follow in the bankruptcy footsteps of Central Falls, or make changes that will keep the state solvent.

      That sounds just like Oregon, only Oregon is worse. Anyone who has looked at the PERS database can see just how bad the math is.

      Gina Raimondo is now the governor of Rhode Island. So reform CAN happen. It just takes leaders with the political will to do the right thing for ALL of the people in Oregon. We have none of that in Oregon and that’s why PERS has grown to be the monster that it is.

  • guest

    Oregon PERS should be set within private sector parameters. No more [bovine scatology] payola.

    If that cannot be common-sense accomplished, let it flounder with no more $upport until bankruptcy clears the poop deck – and, e.g., Mike Belotti, et al, relinquish their lavish T-Bird pay and face up to fiscal realities that private sector taxpayers must deal with.

  • bill

    “Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.”

  • Dave Lister

    If Betsy Johnson is behind this I am for it. Betsy is the last blue collar Democrat in power in Oregon. Her own party wants to get rid of her, because she is pro job and pro gun. God Bless Her.

    Now, Betsy, please endorse Dennis Richardson and Bud Pierce. Like Donald said, “what have you got to lose?”.

    • Native Intelligence

      Don’t give a rip for the Dem SOS nominee? Please write in Betsy Johnson, a true devotee for restoring the SOS sanity that Bill Bradbury, Kate Brown and what’s know been fallowing off Brad Avakian’s behind.