Oregon public pension crisis is going from bad to worse: Poor investment returns are pushing the Public Employee Retirement System’s (PERS) unfunded actuarial liability close to $26.6 billion, and it is probably even worse. That means public employers – our state agencies, our schools, our sheriffs, our cities, our counties – will have to shift even more money away from serving Oregonians toward paying for this out-of-control system.
Yet, Oregon’s governor and lawmakers appear intent on raising billions of dollars in new taxes before they even consider how to fix the runaway PERS costs. It makes no sense. As The Oregonian points out, Oregon school districts will be making PERS contributions during the next two years equal to 28.93 percent of their payroll costs. Offsetting 1 percentage point of those rates would require a balance of $435 million in the school district fund, according to PERS.
PERS officials have already said that last year’s poor investment returns will force them to transfer $255 million in reserves for the PERS Tier One members’ pension accounts. That’s the equivalent of $7,500 for every Tier One member (those hired before 1996) who has yet to retire.