After the Oregon Legislators passed a law that allowed them to retroactively join PERS in 1975, most of them did join. Ever since then, legislators who were PERS members have controlled the legislature and they have consistently put PERS first.
In 1979, they changed the law to allow PERS members to make the people of Oregon pay the employee PERS contributions that those PERS members were supposed to pay. In 1983, they made all persons who became Oregon judges after 1983 to become mandatory PERS members and they offered a large salary increase to all persons who were judges before 1984, if they would join PERS. This gave PERS members in the legislature and on the courts, total control over PERS laws.
In 1989, the PERS legislators passed a law that clearly established PERS funding as Oregon’s highest financial priority. PERS always gets paid first. The very services that each public employer was created to provide to the people of Oregon must be cut back in order to pay for PERS, if there is not enough money to pay for both. That is the reason that today Oregon public agencies are cutting back on services. There has been no reduction in the PERS contributions those agencies have been paying for the employees who have not been laid off. In the Governor’s proposed budget for 2011 – 2013, while the finding for many agencies have been cut back, PERS funding has been increased by $1,000,000,000.
Tomorrow, specific examples of this situation will be given. This situation exist for the sole reason that since 1975 PERS legislators have had absolute control over making the PERS laws. They have made laws that benefit themselves and all their fellow PERS members, who make up about 8% of Oregon’s population, at the expense of the people they were elected to represent.