OPERS Board OKs Scrapping of Old Life Tables

August 14, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) board has agreed to scrap its 25-year-old life expectancy tables within the next two years, according to an Oregonian report.

While the board’s 8-3 vote to do away with the outdated tables could save OPERS almost $2 billion, unhappy unions are certain to file legal challenges

The unions are mad at the fact that pension checks for thousands of future retirees will be lighter than they might have been otherwise, the Oregonian said.
OPERS officials have already estimated that in future years employees now nearing retirement could see pension checks about 7% to 12% lower than they would have.

Greater Public Scrutiny

The vote comes as the pension system’s costs rise and the board comes under greater public scrutiny.

The OPERS system was fully funded a decade ago. But a falling stock market — where much of the OPERS fund is invested — combined with past board actions to rapidly increase benefits have helped drive the system’s shortfall to $8.5 billion, the Oregonian said.

The board’s vote sets into motion a process to change its rules governing life-expectancy tables. The board won’t make the proposed rule final until at least November, giving the public time to comment on it.

Any legal challenge will go straight to the Oregon Supreme Court without a lower court review, because of an expedited legal process approved in the Legislature’s June special session.

All three board members representing unions who were present Monday voted against the change.