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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Soul of A Man

Our feckless Governor - Mr Ted - is demonstrating once again that he lacks soul and is answerable to no one. The issue is SB 897, the only PERS bill with any teeth to come out of this year's legislature. SB 897 has been watered down from its initial form, but passed in both houses of the Legislature by large votes. SB 897 would, in the main, require PERS to "own" the estimates provided to members when they approach retirement. This bill was inspired by the Kay Bell case and others like it where PERS changed benefits on individuals AFTER they had retired, after they had started receiving benefits, and after they'd given up their longstanding public employment. This bill attempts to remedy the problem by requiring PERS to take special measures to insure accuracy in retirement benefit estimates.

Not surprisingly, the bill is opposed by PERS, which argues against it on the basis of expense - an argument I reject as BS. The unions support it (and they effectively re-elected Gov Ted) and OPRI was one of the bill's sponsors.

It is strongly rumored that the Governor will attempt to veto the bill by ignoring it. This concept of a "pocket veto" arises when the Governor chooses to do nothing about a bill following the adjournment of the Legislature. If the Legislature adjourns before Gov Ted has 10 days to review the bill, it is vetoed automatically without the Governor having to do anything. If the Governor does nothing for 10 days and the Legislature is still in session, the bill automatically becomes law. Since the Legislature passed this bill in the days immediately before sine die it is likely that Kulongoski will let the bill die with the Legislature.

I do not understand the Governor. Why is he a Democrat? Why does he accept union money and then stab them in the back? Why do the unions continue to support him? This bill had bipartisan support and passed by large majorities.

I suppose that the Governor, not being up for reelection and term-limited, no longer gives a damn about public employees, their unions, and all the support they've given him throughout his public career. My fondest wish is for the Governor, who will retire with a PERS benefit, gets hoist on his own petard by PERS' continued penchant for "getting it wrong". That would be the only poetic justice in this case - a soulless reaction to a soulless man.

EDIT: late Tuesday afternoon. The Legislature *has* adjourned and this bill's fate rests entirely with the Governor. He must sign it for it to become law; if he wastes the next 10 days doing nothing, it will be consigned to the dustbin, all the effort to pass it wasted. Please, help us persuade the Governor to sign this bill. WRITE, CALL, EMAIL, FEDEX, UPS, Pony Express, whatever. Just push hard on this man who seems to only talk the talk, but refuses to walk the walk.


mrfearless47 said...

Looks like Ted won't have to do anything. Legislature adjourned today. Pocket veto coming for SB 897 unless we mount a huge writing campaign.

MollyNCharlie said...

Marc, thanks for such a good post on this issue, time is short and this is important.

Kay Bell, who can not gain from these changes, worked tirelessly to see this bill through the legislative process. Not only did she testify, telling her painful story; she spent many hours meeting with senators and representatives and even hung around to lobby them in the halls. She has done her part in the face of character assassination from PERS administrators. Now it is time for PERS members retired and active to step up and push for final signing. It is easy enough to post an email, make a call even mail a letter to Ted to remind him of his commitments to public workers.


Bill said...

Unlike the U.S.constitution, the Oregon constitution does not allow pocket vetoes. After the legislature adjourns, the governor has 30 calendar days to sign or veto bills. After 30 days, any bills on which he or she has not taken action become law.

mrfearless47 said...

Thanks Bill for your helpful post. I suppose it is good news insofar as the Governor is going to have to take a stand on this bill if he opposes it. The forces out there still think he plans to veto the bill, though how he can do so with a clear conscience with the number of votes gathered on this one issue across both parties, eludes me. But I am happy to be corrected.