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Tax Hikes, Not PERS Changes, Provide Additional State Funding

OPB | Oct. 3, 2013 1:37 p.m. | Portland

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The $200 million in spending that Oregon legislators approved in their special session comes from higher taxes.  The changes to the Public Employee Retirement System have a longer-term effect.

Legislators approved far more than $200 million dollars in tax hikes from higher corporate rates, elimination of an exemption for richer Oregonians, a change to medical deductions, and higher tobacco taxes.

The increases are partly offset by millions in tax cuts — such as reductions to certain business income and bigger tax credits for less affluent Oregonians with jobs.

The latest PERS changes don’t add revenue to the current budget cycle. But they do have a future impact. State officials say by reining in cost-of-living increases, the new changes will cut long-term liabilities by $5 billion.

Attorneys representing public employees say the recent PERS bills may violate existing contracts. PERS beneficiaries have asked the state Supreme Court to review changes from the 2013 regular session.

They could change that petition, or file a new one over this week’s legislation.

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