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Competing PERS Reform Plans

OPB | April 4, 2013 12:20 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 11, 2013 12:40 a.m.

OPB/John Rosman

Reforming the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) has been at the top of the agenda for Oregon lawmakers this session. More than 40 proposals have been introduced, but at this point two have gained traction with supporters inside and outside of the Capitol. SB 822 has the support of Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, while SB 754 has been endorsed mainly by Republicans who introduced it on behalf of the Oregon School Boards Association (OSBA).

SB 822 would reduce cost of living increases for retirees. The plan has been criticized by public employees who say it’s unfair and by Republicans who argue that it’s not comprehensive enough to be called “real PERS reform.”

The OSBA plan would impose more severe limits on cost of living increases and change the way overtime and vacation pay would affect pension calculations. This proposal may not get very far, as Speaker of the House Tina Kotek has not yet scheduled a hearing on it.

Clearly, the lawmakers behind these proposals are anticipating legal challenges. The language in both bills addresses this directly: if passed, a lawsuit from an “adversely affected party” would get an “expedited review” by the Oregon Supreme Court.

Are you a public employee? How would the proposed changes affect your plans for retirement? If you don’t like the ideas in these bills, what would you rather see?

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