Oregon PERS Reform Bill Sails On to State Senate

May 5, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Efforts to reform the ailing Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) moved significantly closer to reality when the state's House of Representatives OK'd a bill that slashed the pensions of 160,000 public employees and 20,000 recent retirees.

After sailing through the House with a 38 to 20 margin, HB 2003 now goes on to the state Senate where it is likewise expected to pass, according to aSalem (Oregon) Statesman Journal news report.Governor Ted Kulongoski, who helped craft it along with legislative leaders (See PERS Reform Bill Marches Through Oregon Legislature ), is expected to sign it into law once it reaches his desk.

According to lawmakers,HB 2003 is expected to cut the PERS $16-billion shortfall by $6.6 billion, saving state and local governments $338 million per year in benefit costs.

However, critics said the bill won’t survive an Oregon Supreme Court challenge because it slashes pensions promised to workers when they joined the public sector.“It’s a cheap political solution to a knotty policy problem,” Michael Slater, political director of Service Employees International Union, Local 503, the largest state workers union, told the newspaper.