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Ore. Pension Reformers Face Steep Hurdles

Oregon lawmakers who want to lower the costs of pension benefits for government employees face a difficult dance. To be successful, they’ll have to craft changes that produce meaningful savings without reneging on iron-clad promises made to workers in years past.

A number of ideas have been suggested, but any significant legislation is likely to land quickly in a courtroom, where previous attempts to cut pension costs have been overturned.

The push to cut pension benefits is driven by a steep rise in the burden on taxpayers to make up for investment losses in 2008. Government agencies will spend $3 billion on pensions in the next two-year budget, up 45 percent from what they’re paying now.

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