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Demand action on PERS reform

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

By Rep. Kevin Cameron  (R-Salem)

There have been nearly 50 bills introduced that address, in some way, the PERS issue.  So far, there has been no substantial legislation that has received a hearing. I am co-sponsoring the below four bills that were introduced by Rep. Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg).

HB 3056 would limit the computation of “final average salary” to salary, rather than including unused sick time and vacation accruals.

HB 3057 would limit the COLA for PERS benefits to the first $36,000 of retirement income.

HB 3058 phases out the ability of employers to “pick-up” the employee’s 6% contribution into retirement accounts by 2020.

HB 3059 ends the practice of providing a supplemental benefit payment to offset income taxes for those who are not subject to Oregon income taxes.

It is my understanding that estimates of savings after instituting these reforms would be over $700 million per biennium. These alterations to the current process are important steps in the right direction to put PERS on sustainable footing for the future.

This is not a conversation about the worthiness of our public employees.  It is a conversation about the absolute proven unsustainability of this retirement system.  These bills deserve the opportunity to be heard, at the very least, in order to begin meaningful dialogue about how we are going to address this important issue in our state.  The impact that it is having to our school districts and local government budgets is devastating and hurting our kids, our seniors, our social service agencies, and public safety.  We must do better.

Reprinted with permission from Oregon Catalyst

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