Helping schools requires PERS reform

Alan Bates

Sen. Alan Bates

Oregonians sent elected officials to Salem this session with a clear directive: Reduce class sizes, stop teacher layoffs, and prioritize our schools.

We heard this loud and clear, and this March Rep. Peter Buckley and Sen. Richard Devlin, our budget co-chairs, proposed adding $1 billion in additional resources Oregon’s public schools over current levels. The proposal calls Oregonians from all walks of life to join in the effort to reinvest in our schools while keeping other vital services intact by recommending savings from PERS, closing tax loopholes, and making government more efficient.

Addressing PERS savings head-on this week is Senate Bill 822, a bill designed to produce savings that will make a positive difference in school budgets. Senate Bill 822 includes two changes to PERS: It would eliminate the income tax reimbursement for out-of-state retiree, and institute a reduced graduated scale on the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) based on the benefit level of a retiree. The bill maintains the current 2 percent COLA for all pension dollars up to $20,000, and by introducing a graduated scale for the COLA, SB 822 ensures all retirees will still get a cost of living increase, while asking upper middle- and higher-income retirees and workers to make a sacrifice to stabilize the system and rebuild our schools.

It’s critical that the co-chairs proposal calls for all Oregonians to take part in the effort to rebuild schools. The proposals in SB 822 are equitable, particularly for lower- and middle-income retirees, will produce immediate, long-term savings, and they offer a balanced approach to reinvest in our schools and our kids.






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