In 1945, when the Oregon legislature first created PERS, that law started with the words “Be It Enacted By The People Of The State Of Oregon”. That’s how every law passed in Oregon starts, whether it comes from the legislature or it comes directly from the people exercising their constitutional right of initiative.
In 1999, the legislature added the following provision to an already existing PERS law: IF THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM IS TERMINATED, OR IF CONTRIBUTIONS MAY NO LONGER BE MADE TO THE SYSTEM, EACH MEMBER OF THE SYSTEM HAS A NONFORFEITABLE RIGHT TO THE BENEFITS THAT THE MEMBER HAS ACCRUED AS OF THE DATE OF THE TERMINATION, OR AS OF THE DATE THAT CONTRIBUTIONS MAY NO LONGER BE MADE TO THE SYSTEM, TO THE EXTENT THAT THOSE BENEFITS ARE FUNDED.
This provision clearly recognizes that PERS can be terminated and that contributions to PERS may be prohibited. If either one of those two events occurred, PERS members would have a right to accrued benefits, but only to the extent those benefits are funded. No further PERS contributions would or could be made and billions of dollars each year would be available to provide services to all Oregonians.
If the legislature refuses to clean up the PERS mess that it has made, the people have the right to clean it up for themselves. While that, by itself, would not eliminate the past wrongs, it would prevent further damage. Oregon could then move forward with all of its citizens being treated fairly, just as its founders had envisioned.