The Oregonian yesterday summed up the fiscal challenge facing Oregon:
“The stark reality behind the governor’s push is that Oregon won’t make much headway on education if it plows a big chunk of new money into schools only to see most of it disappear into the pension system, which is exactly what could happen over the next decade as pension cost increases continue unabated.” – The Oregonian
An Oregonian article described Gov. Brown’s attempts to address the rising costs the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) pension debt of falling far short of what’s needed to stop the PERS’ drain on schools and other public services.
The governor is still considering a raid on SAIF’s reserves funds meant to protect injured workers, or diverting kicker funds that are supposed to go back to Oregon taxpayers. Her third option, employee cost sharing, makes the most sense. It is a way public employees can contribute to their own retirement, much the way employees in other states and most private sector workers do.
Tell your legislators it’s time to rein in PERS costs, but not by taking money intended for injured workers or taxpayer kicker refunds. Before legislators raise any new taxes, insist they find a lasting solution to PERS first. It’s time.