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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Everybody's On the Phone

Only been gone a week, but the old voicemail box has runneth over. The PERS news is pretty mundane, although if you are a lump sum retiree already faced with or soon to face a large lump bill to pay, HB 2397 may be your remedy. In little-noticed action during the week, HB 2397 passed both the Senate and the House and is on its way to the governor for either his signature, or him sitting on it and allowing it to go into law without his signature. There seems to be some disagreement whether he will sign it or not. Basically, HB 2397 allows those who owe PERS a lump sum from a lump sum retirement settlement to make the payment using a custodial transfer to PERS from an IRA, 401K, or other tax-sheltered account without incurring any tax or early withdrawal penalties. It does not change the obligation to repay in a lump sum, but it will allow the repayment to take place from a tax-advantaged account without triggering adverse tax consequences. The effective date is unclear, as is whether those who have already paid with non-tax advantaged money will be given a retroactive opportunity to pay this way. Actually, for those who have already paid, it isn't clear whether this bill has any benefits, but at least it makes the option available in the future. You can read the text of HB 2397 on the Oregon Legislature's web site (sorry for not having the link immediately at the tip of my fingers; I'm still adjusting to time changes).

In another development, PERS released its latest "PERS By The Numbers" with a June 2007 date. It continues to prove the point made by the PERS Coalition that had the Legislature done nothing in 2003, the structural problems with PERS would have resolved themselves and the PERS Board could have made incremental fixes along the way that would have been relatively benign for all members and retirees. I doubt we'll see the media touting this document as proving *this* particular point; if it gets mentioned at all, it will be cited as further proof that the reforms were both necessary and are working. It completely belies the Ron Saxton claim that the reforms were too little, too late. You can read the whole document here

As expected, Judge Crater is still missing. He didn't release any decisions in the Arken or Robinson cases, and the White case continues to spin slowly. The Legislature will adjourn for this year on June 29th; perhaps we'll see decisions after they go sine die for 2007.

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