Oregon Votes Approve Pension Bond Sale

September 17, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Oregon voters on Tuesday gave a thumbs up to a plan to sell bonds to refinance part of the state's public pension debt in a move advertised as saving the state about $1 billion.

The measure, put on the special election ballot by the state Legislature, authorizes the state to sell $2 billion in bonds, according to the Associated Press. By doing so, contended State Treasurer Randall Edwards, the state could take advantage of low bond interest rates and reap the savings as it pays its share of the Public Employee Retirement System’s (PERS) debt (See  Oregon Pension Bond Bills Closer to Referendum Vote ).

“I’m pleased that with this victory tonight we will be able to take this smart, fiscally responsible step,” Edwards said, according to the AP. “I will be able to save nearly $1 billion. That’s money that can go to schools, our seniors and other critical services.”

The Oregon Libertarian Party, Measure 29’s primary opponents, argued the bonded debt would have to be paid off with more taxes because legislators would squander money saved from refinancing and that the bonding authority seemed too open-ended (See  Oregon Libertarians: Cut Spending to Finance Pension Debt ).