PERS Approves Pension Hike for Oregon Public Retirees

July 23, 2007 ( - Retired Oregon public employees whose pensions have been frozen without cost-of-living adjustments in four years will see a 2% increase in their payouts, the Associated Press reported.

class=”sjarticle-copy”>The measure will increase the pensions of the approximately 25,000 individuals who retired after March 2000 and have been frozen since then, with no cost-of-living adjustments. The PERS Board has been withholding such cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) since 2003, when the state saw sweeping pension reforms (See Oregon Lawmakers OK Reformed Public Pension Plan ).

class=”sjarticle-copy”>One of the pension reform measures approved by the legislature suspended COLAs for those retiring between April 1, 2000 and April 1, 2004 (See  PERS Board Implements Legislative Reform Changes ). This meant that PERS has been withholding COLAs for about 35,000 retirees, only 10,000 of which they have settled up by adjusting their pensions, billing them for one-time payments or other measures.

class=”sjarticle-copy”>The Oregon Supreme Court threw out two of the six pension reforms in a 2005 ruling, one of which included the block on the COLAs (See  Oregon High Court Issues Mixed Ruling on PERS Reforms ). The 92-page decision  called for the pension system to restore money to retirees’ accounts, but the fiscal impact was not immediately known.

class=”sjarticle-copy”>In June, Multnomah Circuit Judge Henry Kantor ruled that PERS must halt efforts to reduce pensions retroactively of those who already retired. Since then the retirement system staff had made a recommendation that COLAs be made to nearly 25,000 retirees, which PERS approved.

class=”sjarticle-copy”>Howver, the retirement system board is expected to appeal the June ruling, according to the AP report.