April 12, 2019
Statement by PERS Solutions for Public Services interim executive director Tim Nesbitt in response to Gov. Kate Brown’s proposal
to address PERS pension costs for schools
We applaud the Governor for putting forward a plan that addresses the rising costs of PERS caused by the pension system’s $26.6 billion debt. Many of the reform elements we have proposed are in the Governor’s proposal – employee cost sharing, the work back/pay back plan, state assumption of local PERS cost increases and a long-term approach to managing the remaining liabilities of the system. These are the right components for meaningful reform.
However, in their current form, the proposals ease PERS cost pressures only for schools. They don’t address the PERS drain on other public services – police and fire, public health, higher education, child welfare, senior services. The Governor’s plan leaves city, county and state agencies on their own to absorb future PERS costs increases, which will mean more layoffs and cutbacks across the board.
PERS is a statewide problem, and we need statewide solutions to protect essential public services for all Oregonians.
Even for schools, the savings envisioned are too little, too late. Schools will continue to be saddled with PERS costs in excess of 25 percent of their payrolls. We’ll still see billions of dollars of any new revenue package diverted to cover PERS pension costs.
Nonetheless, these are a useful set of components for reform. We look forward to further discussion of these components with the Governor and the legislature.