Coincidence Or Deliberate Manipulation, You Decide

During the first 26 years that PERS existed, legislators were not eligible for PERS membership.  That changed in 1971, when the Oregon Attorney General withdrew a 1963 opinion and ruled that legislators could join PERS.  Soon after, PERS benefits began to dramatically increase and continued to do so for the next ten years.  Was the benefit increase just  a coincidence or were the legislators deliberately changing the law for their own personal financial gain?  Read the following summary and come to your own conclusion.

This is what the PERS benefits looked like in 1971, before the Attorney General ruled  legislators could join PERS in May of that year:

1.   The PERS retirement benefit funded by employer contributions equaled 20% of the retiring PERS member’s final average salary.  The total PERS retirement benefit funded by  both employer contributions and employee contributions  was intended to be approximately 50% of the retired public employee’s final average salary after 30 years of service.

2.  Unused sick leave could not be used to determine a retiring PERS member’s final average salary.

3.  There was no guaranteed minimum rate of return for employee PERS contributions.

4.  No one could  retroactively join PERS.

5.  No elected official could earn PERS retirement credits after age 65.

6.  Every PERS member had to pay his or her own employee PERS contribution.

This is what the PERS benefits looked like in December, 1981, ten years after the Attorney General ruled that legislators could join PERS:

1.  By 1981, the legislators had increased the PERS retirement benefit funded by employer contributions from 20% of the retiring PERS member’s final average salary after 30 years of service to 50% of the retiring PERS member’s final average salary.  Many PERS members were able to retire after 30 years of service and receive retirement benefits equal to 100% or more of their final average salary.

2.  In 1973, the legislators allowed unused sick leave to be used to determine a retiring PERS member’s final average salary.

3.  In 1975, the legislators provided a guaranteed minimum return for employee PERS contributions.

4.  Starting in 1975 and lasting until 1987, legislators could  retroactively join PERS.

5.  Staring in 1975, legislators became the only elected officials who could earn PERS retirement credits after age 65.

6.  Starting in 1979, legislators passed the PERS pick up law which gave PERS members  the option to make the people of Oregon pay their employee PERS contributions for them. When the employee PERS contribution is picked up, the PERS member pays nothing into PERS and also gets an increased employer funded contribution.  Today, the people of Oregon are forced to pick up employee PERS contributions for over 70% of PERS members and that costs the people almost $500,000,000 each year.

From 1945 to 1971, the interests of all Oregonians were represented when PERS laws were made and PERS retirement benefits did not exceed more than 50% of a retired public employee’s final average salary.  In the first ten years after legislators were first allowed to join PERS, the non-PERS Oregonians were excluded from the PERS law making process and the PERS legislators changed those laws so that public employees could get retirement benefits of 100% or more of their final average salary.

Advertisements

About Dan Re

I am an attorney who has lived in Bend and practiced law since 1981. In educating myself about the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), I was shocked at how the PERS laws were changed by the legislature, once legislators were allowed to join PERS in 1971, 26 years after PERS was first created. Those changes personally benefitted the legislators who made them at the direct financial expense of the people they were elected to represent. That is wrong and I intend to change it. In 2009, I started a non-profit 501(c)(4) corporation, In RE The People, Inc., for the purpose of informing concerned citizens of what happened regarding PERS and other issues of social and civic importance. I then created this blog to further that objective.
This entry was posted in Ballot Measure 8, fundamental fairness, Oregon judges, Oregon legislators, Oregon legislature, Oregon PERS and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s