As a result of a court settlement with The Oregonian and The Statesman Journal, Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement
System (PERS) released the names and benefit amounts for all of its retirees. By now, most Oregonians are aware that former University of Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti is at the top of the heap, receiving a whopping $496,100.04 annually, or $41,341.67 per month. Bellotti’s benefits are on the extreme upper end of the spectrum; the average PERS retiree takes in less (pdf) each year than the former athletic director gets in a month.
The local chapter of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council (AFSCME) says it hopes the information release will clear up misconceptions about public employee benefits. In the same post on its website, the public employee union says it will urge legislators to redact names from another release of PERS data due in March.
It’s a bit early to predict what effect all of this information will have on the legislative session that begins February 1. There were quite a few ideas for PERS reform that were left on the cutting room floor when the last session ended. Republicans are already calling for an end to the so-called six percent rule. This requires employers to contribute six percent of employees’ salaries towards retirement. Republican lawmakers would like to see employees make those pension contributions instead.
Are you a current or retired public employee in Oregon? How has the release of this data affected you? If you’re not in the public employee system, how does this information shape your thinking about public pensions?
- Dennis Thompson Jr: State Workforce Reporter for The Statesman Journal