First things first: Fatten the PERS

The bobbleheads of the state legislature had barely arrived in Salem when they started in with jacking up government worker pensions around the state. The public employee unions control the Democratic Party, and they always want their pound of flesh. This time around it's bigger pensions for some public safety types, because gosh, I've never felt safer in Oregon, have you?

The Old Man of the Weed tells the story here. But in keeping with the tradition of soft-playing what happens in the legslature, it's pretty well buried. 

Democrats added complexity Feb. 6 by proposing to increase retirement benefits for district attorneys, 911 operators, and Oregon State Hospital staff by placing them in the same benefit category as police and firefighters—worth a 20% increase. House Bill 4045, sponsored by state Rep. Dacia Grayber (D-Portland), would also lower the retirement age from 60 to 55 for police and firefighters in the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System’s newest tier, the Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan.

And he puts a little heat on Tina K., who actually shaved a little off the PERS as House speaker, back before she became governor. Somehow she got away with it. Most lawmakers who dare say no to the public employee unions soon go back to their day jobs full time.

Anyway, public pensions are sucking the life out of the budgets of most governmental units around Oregon, but even with that gouge, the retirements are not properly funded. And God knows what goes on with the investment of the funds; I'd be afraid to ask. Remember when Mrs. Goldshmidt was running it? Yeah.

As for the specifics of the latest proposal, aside from it being too expensive generally and the criminal justice system not getting results to deserve it, there's the curious matter of classifying prosecutors and 911 operators as having "dangerous" jobs. Really? No, not really. Especially not the 911 people. They're crucial, and they're under high stress all the time, but in danger? No. The people at the state hospital, now, they're a different story. They got 99 scary problems on every floor.


  1. It's hard to have a conversation about PERS because it is like an exposed root that the dentist keeps hitting with the drill, but we do need public employees and we have entered into agreements to provide pensions -- ergo, we need to fund the pensions we've agreed to before we go expanding them. We should revise the kicker statute to say that the kicker only kicks if all the public pensions are fully funded, and until they are, the "kicker" revenue goes into the pension trust funds.

  2. "Somehow she got away with it." Yeah, Diego Hernandez was in the room for it. He claimed that all the bad luck he had in Salem was rooted in the single time he wouldn't vote in favor of PERS reform after Kotek threatened him. That's how Tina got away it with: slitting the throats of anyone dumb enough to oppose her.

    1. It worked the other way when Greg Macpherson, a true expert on pension law, dared to suggest PERS reform. That was the end of his political career.

  3. Good luck changing the kicker. That day is gone.

    Tell me one taxpayer that wants to reward ineffective spending for Oregon, when Oregonisns are already paying some of the highest taxes in the country, accompanied by above average costs of living a normal life.


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