Initiatives offer voters chance to weigh in on PERS

Published Thursday, April 4, 2019

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Statement by Oregon Business & Industry on the PERS ballot measures filed today:

These initiatives are an important step forward in the statewide conversation on how we should finally address the pressing PERS problem, which has been draining the budgets of school districts, local government and the state for decades.

OBI has advocated for PERS reform and cost controls to help set the state budget on the right track. The $26.6 billion PERS unfunded liability is an issue affecting funding throughout the state government, especially in K-12 education. Cost controls are needed to ensure more funds make it to students in the classroom, helping foster a better-educated workforce for Oregon’s future.

The Oregon PERS Solutions PAC outlined the initiatives in its own press release:

  • One initiative establishes an optional 401(k)-style individual retirement savings plan for new hires as an alternative to the traditional PERS pension plan. For current employees, it maintains all earned benefits and transitions their current 6 percent of salary contribution from their separate individual account program to their pensions. This works to protect their pensions and lower their employers’ PERS costs.
  • The second initiative protects pension benefits for covered workers and requires employees enrolled in the pension to contribute one-third of the going-forward cost of future benefits earned.

These measures work to address the future costs of PERS, while keeping previously earned benefits intact for public employees.