Representative Judy Stiegler is running a reelection campaign ad which concludes that all of the negative comments about her, such as her being a big spending liberal, are bunk. The ad points out that Judy is a mother and a grandmother and that she voted to reduce Oregon’s general fund budget by two billion dollars. On July 12, 2010, I wrote to Judy and asked her to provide me with the specific bills she voted for that reduced the budget by two billion dollars. She has never responded to that request.
The State’s general fund budget pays for services that are provided to all Oregonians. Assuming that Judy did vote to reduce the general fund budget, she really voted to reduce services to the people of Oregon by two billion dollars. I can find no record, however, that Judy ever voted to reduce public employee PERS benefits by even one dollar. If that is correct, Judy’s voting record supports the concept that public employee PERS benefits are insulated from the effects of an economic downturn and the burden of such a downturn will be born by the non-PERS population.
Judy’s voting record does establish that she has voted to preserve PERS benefits and that is not surprising since she join PERS when she was elected to the legislature. Judy voted to allow mandatory prison sentences to be reduced in 2009 to eliminate a $6,000,000 Department of Correction budget deficit that was caused because the Department was paying $18,000,000 in PERS pickup contributions for its employees in 2009. Judy’s vote on that bill made it clear that, in her view, PERS comes first and public safety comes second but only if there is enough money left to pay for public safety after PERS benefits are fully funded. Judy also voted to make it virtually impossible for local government agencies to hire private contractors to reduce their expenses and thereby provide more public services. This vote protected PERS employee jobs and benefits and reduced the services that the people would have received from the government if private contractors were hired.
All of those actions are perfectly consistent with Judy being a PERS mother and grandmother. What mother or grandmother would not do whatever was necessary to provide for her children and grandchildren? Judy knows that as a PERS member, her children and grandchildren can be the beneficiaries of her PERS benefits. If she supports PERS reform, her children and grandchildren could lose benefits they would otherwise receive. Under these circumstances, her protection of PERS benefits and her willingness to pay for PERS by reducing services to the public is understandable.
Judy was elected to represent the people of Oregon’s 54th House District. When she joined PERS after she was elected, she created a conflict between her interest in protecting her family and her responsibility to represent and protect the interests of all of the people in District 54. She has not been able to do that. None of the PERS legislators have. Any suggestion to the contrary is bunk, pure, unadulterated BUNK.