AFP-Oregon releases ad calling on Legislature to reform PERS

Americans for Prosperity – Oregon (AFP-Oregon)

AFP begins TV campaign to urge PERS reform

Sublimity – With States across America reforming the way government employees are compensated, AFP-Oregon today began a ten-week television ad campaign to educateOregonians about problems with the State’s Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) and to urge reform of the system during the 2011 Legislative Session.  The series will highlight some of the outrageous “PERS Poster Children.”  Viewers are encouraged to visit to learn more, and to contact their Legislators to demand reform of the troubled retirement system.

The first ad, which begins running today, features former Legislator and Portland Police Officer John Minnis.  The ad notes that Minnis, serving as a $20,000 per year Legislator, was appointed by then-Governor Ted Kulongoski as Director of the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in 2003.  The political appointment dramatically increased Minnis’ PERS-eligible salary to $120,000 a year, and also upgraded all his years of Legislative service to that amount for purposes of calculating his retirement benefit.  Minnis never paid a penny into PERS to fund his own retirement.  Better yet – at least for Mr. Minnis – he also was eligible for a pension payment from the Portland Police and Fire Disability and Pension Plan, which operates separately from PERS.

During his time as Director of DDPSS, Minnis was accused of sexual harrassment, a charge which cost the state almost $400,000 to settle in 2010.  Minnis and his wife – former Speaker of the House Karen Minnis – are now retired in Washington State, where they pay no Oregon income taxes.  Under State law and court decisions, Minnis’ pension was increased to account for the State’s 9 percent top income tax rate, even though he pays no Oregon income tax, providing him with another taxpayer funded windfall.

“Taxpayers in our state are struggling under a growing burden from PERS,” noted AFP-Oregon State Director Jeff Kropf.  “For too long, the Legislature and the Governor have failed to act to curb, double-dipping and self-dealing.  It’s time for strong action that will remove Legislators, the Governor and Oregon Judges from PERS, and require all government employees to pay at least 6 percent of their salaries into their ownretirement plans.  Without these and other steps, PERS will continue to be an albatross around the neck of Oregon’s private sector.”

The AFP-Oregon ads are running in media markets across the State.