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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TubThumping

I've been out of town for a few weeks and my posts have been sparse. Needless to say, so is PERS news these days. After our cowardly Governor vetoed SB897, the only talk I'm hearing is the "possibility" that a group of Legislators from both parties may try to mount an effort to overturn the Governor's veto of SB897. It is rare to ever have any bill passed unanimously by both House and Senate and unheard of for a Governor to veto that bill. That's just dumb, even for a lame duck. Ostensibly, the reason for the Governor's reluctance to sign SB 897 was that there is still outstanding litigation about the subject of SB 897 and the Governor felt that the litigation should be allowed to run its course before the Legislature gets involved. Besides being hypocritical (the City of Eugene case was still in litigation when the Governor proposed a complete overhaul of the PERS system to "solve" some of the problems identified by the PERS reform bills), it is also plain incorrect. The *only* litigation still ongoing is PERS' appeal of the ruling in the Kay Bell civil trial. Regardless of what happens in that case, only one person will benefit from its resolution - Kay Bell. It isn't a class action case. It isn't an administrative rule hearing. It has no application outside Kay Bell and has no possibility of inducing or requiring PERS to change its ways. In fact, SB 897 was designed to solve the problem that Kay Bell and many others found themselves in well after retirement.

I don't know how likely it is that the Legislature will take up the SB 897 veto during its winter Special Session. Typically, these sessions are scheduled in advance when pressing financial problems make it necessary for some mid-term adjustments to the State's budget or agency budgets. It may take a lot of tubthumping to get SB 897 back on the front burner. But you can write your legislators (House and Senate) and urge each to support a plan to overturn the Governor's veto. Otherwise, PERS pre-retirees will continue to go blindly into retirement without any legal assurance that the estimates as well as the final Notice of Entitlement might fall prey to another of PERS' FUBARS. No one is asking PERS to pay anyone more than they are owed. It would just be nice to know with certainty that you are not retiring on a promise compromised by fingers crossed behind PERS' back.

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