Response to the Co-Chairs' Budget Proposal+Share
The co-chairs' budget was greeted with happy headlines yesterday: "Good for K-12, PERS Cuts."
Then why am I not smiling?
The co-chairs' proposal does get to higher total dollars for the 2013-15 biennium than the Governor's did. So that is good.
The bad news is that the co-chairs largely ducked the PERS question. Their proposal does less to reduce school districts' PERS rates—and some of the reduction comes from extending the period in which we'll be paying. At that rate, Oregon districts will still be facing severely constrained budgets when today's toddlers are in high school.
So the co-chairs proposal will cut our PERS liability by 50% less than what the Governor proposed—and extend the problem further into the future.
Tim Nesbitt, former advisor to Govs. Kulongoski and Kitzhaber, explains why it's so important for our legislators to take a closer look at PERS:
"Keeping pension promises is both a legal and moral obligation. But there are aspects of PERS' complicated benefit formulas that have produced payouts far in excess of what was anticipated at the time they were created. So parsing the promises of PERS will fall to the courts. Meanwhile, PERS has released a menu of options that include several ways to keep its costs constant in the next biennium without reducing initial pensions -- primarily by limiting future increases for higher-income retirees and modifying the 401(k)-style program that supplements the pension plan."