"This is not a complete solution, but it is a step in the right direction," said Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day). "This proposal moves the ball down the field, providing some relief to classrooms, police departments and other core services. We have more work to do, but this is a productive next step."
Combined with savings from action taken in the regular session, PERS liability will be reduced to $11.3 billion, a 30% decrease from the beginning of the year. It is projected to reduce local employer contributions by 2%, representing major savings to school districts and local governments.
The reforms adopted Wednesday will limit the cost of living increases for retirees, while protecting low-income pensioners with supplemental payments. The legislature also approved SB 862 which will remove future legislators from the PERS system and stop pension spiking with health insurance.
"These are common sense reforms that allow for significant re-investment back in classrooms," said Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro). "The policy changes also increase the accountability and transparency surrounding PERS, allowing the future legislators to govern without even the appearance of an interest conflict."
Because of the high costs to local services like schools, Republicans have been pushing for PERS reforms for the last two years. The changes agreed to by the legislature today are the result of months of conversations with Democrats and represent part of a bi-partisan agreement.