A story in the Oregonian on February 28, 2012, by Jeff Mapes, described Carl Hosticka’s decision to run again for the Oregon legislature. Mr. Hosticka previously served in the Oregon House from 1983 to 1993. Hosticka said he wants the Legislature to function more like it did when he last served. “They are going to call me a career politician,” he said. “My response is, ‘Yeah, I was in the Legislature. But when I was there, we did things.”
When it came to PERS enhancements, Mr. Hosticka, a long-time PERS member, is absolutely right. He and the other PERS legislators during 1983 to 1993 enacted a series of PERS laws that made PERS the most powerful organization in Oregon. It is those laws that require PERS benefits to be funded first and it is those laws that now cause expenditures for education, public safety and all other public services to be cut back. Mr. Hosticka and the other PERS legislators during the 1983 – 1993 period insisted that PERS must be paid first.
Since Mr. Hosticka retired from the legislature in 1993, things have changed. There are not as many PERS legislators as there were in that decade of PERS ascension. In 1983, 84 out of the 90 legislators were PERS members. In 1989, there were 82 PERS legislators. Today, PERS is under intense public scrutiny and there are many calls for reform of the PERS laws that Mr. Hosticka helped enact. If elected, however, Mr. Hosticka will do every thing he can to prevent PERS reforms. His personal financial interest in PERS and the interest of the organizations who are supporting him in his bid for election will require him to do so.
As a Tier One PERS member, Mr. Hosticka’s PERS benefits are the very best and they require the most money to fund. During the 2011-13 biennium, the entire PERS budget is $7.5 billion and out of that total, $7.2 billion goes just to fund the benefits of Tier One and Tier Two PERS members. While that special PERS group only makes up 54% of non-retired PERS members, they get 96% of the money that goes to PERS.
To date, Mr. Hosticka has received over $415,000 for his campaign this year and $342,000, 82% of the total, has come from just four organizations that are dedicated to protecting the current PERS laws:
- $206,779 from Future PAC, House Builders which wants the Oregon House of Representatives to be controlled by PERS supporters;
- $68,604 from Citizens for Political Education, a group established to help elect PERS members at the state and local government levels;
- $34,685 from the Democratic Party of Oregon, which is heavily funded by PERS unions; and
- $31,818 from the Oregon Education Association – People for Improvement of Education which represents the interest of PERS members.
Mr. Hosticka has proudly proclaimed that he wants to return the legislature to what it was when it was dominated by PERS members and so do his political backers. Here are just a few of the PERS laws enacted during that period and Mr. Hosticka voted for every one of them:
- 1983, Forcing Oregon Judges Into PERS. When PERS was created in 1945, Oregon’s judges had their own separate retirement plan and they could not join PERS as judges. Legislators were first allowed to join PERS in 1971 and they spent the next ten years substantially increasing PERS benefits. To protect those new PERS benefits from being changed by the people of Oregon, Rep. Hosticka and seventy-one other legislators vote to make the judges automatic PERS members starting January 1, 1984. That way, if the people every changed the PERS law by Initiative, the judges would have the chance to throw out the initiative measure in court. And that is exactly what happened with Ballot measure 8, passed by the people of Oregon in 1994.
- 1983, Non-Disclosure of PERS status. Also, in 1983, Mr. Hosticka and the other PERS legislators passed a law that they hoped would protect their PERS status from the people of Oregon. That laws was interpreted to do just that by PERS until October, 2009 when the Attorney General ruled that PERS status of legislators was not protected from disclosure.
- 1989, PERS officially made Oregon’s Highest financial priority. Mr. Hosticka also voted for the 1989 law that required PERS funding to be paid first, ahead of all other state expenditures. That law was very good for Mr. Hosticka but it has been a disaster for Oregon’s children and for all Oregonians.
Clearly, Mr. Hosticka is a PERS member for all seasons. He was there on the front line when PERS legislators substantially altered the PERS laws between 1983 and 1993. Those alterations completely disenfranchised all non-PERS residents of Oregon from any meaningful participation in deciding what the PERS laws would be. Now, twenty years later, when his carefully crafted PERS enhancements are under attack he is ready to rejoin the fight to protect PERS benefits as Oregon’s highest financial priority, no matter what the cost.