Oregon PERS to Seek Pension Reform Legal Advice

July 1, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The board of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) is ready to comply with a court order to implement pension reform - but not before meeting with its lawyers.

The PERS board decided it needed more legal advice on how it should comply with an order issued by Marion Circuit Judge Paul Lipscomb (See  Judge Blasts Oregon Pension Panel ), according to the   Salem (Oregon) Statesman Journal. PERS recently lost a bid to put the Lipscomb ruling on hold during a court appeal. 

Lipscomb ruled last October that the board awarded too much of the pension fund’s 1999 stock market profits to public employees, rather than building up reserves. Many worker pension accounts bulged 20% because of the fund’s hefty 1999 earnings.Fully applying the ruling could require PERS to take $2 billion from employee and retiree accounts and put it into reserves, which would reduce many workers’ pensions.

The board needs to proceed carefully because it is likely to get sued for its actions no matter what it does, chairwoman Dawn Morgan told the Statesman Journal. The board must follow new PERS reforms passed by the Legislature (See    PERS Board Implements Legislative Reform Changes ), and apply the Lipscomb ruling, and the two are not “in sync,” Morgan said.