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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

With A Little Help From My Friends

One of the more interesting political races this year pits Incumbent Dennis Richardson (R, 4th District) against retired Community College President Richard (Rick) Levine (D). This district encompasses a portion of Jackson County in Southern Oregon. Since both candidates are running unopposed in May 18th's primary, they will face each other in November's election.

This race is important for PERS members and retirees because it pits a consistent anti-PERS legislator (Richardson) against a PERS retiree. While Levine wouldn't be expected always to be favorable to PERS, its members, or its retirees, it is highly likely that we would get a fairer hearing than Richardson would ever give us. Richardson first appeared as troublesome for PERS members in the 2003 Legislature when he introduced the bill known as HB 2020 which, in his form, would have created the new Tier 3 as a total 401-K plan with no employer match whatsoever. Richardson has since gone on to wail and gnash his teeth publicly over PERS' current financials and claiming that PERS would bankrupt Oregon. Richardson has consistently and repeatedly cried doom and gloom over PERS and has become the most outspoken current legislator to propose the "nuclear option" of terminating PERS.

Regardless of your political party, it would be helpful if some of us could send a few spare dollars towards Rick Levine's campaign. It makes no sense to send this money now. It would be better to wait until after the primary so Levine has some ready cash to help him campaign against Richardson.

I have no opinion on most of the other races, including the Governor's race, right now, but the 4th District presents one of the clearest choices we've seen since Greg MacPherson went down to defeat against John Kroger in 2008. The less unfavorable treatment and disrespect we get in the Legislature, the more we can begin to relax against the latest reign of terror against PERS members and retirees. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty tired of the constant doom and gloom perpetrated by ignorant legislators and bored media types.

Rick Levine can use our help. Everyone like him should get a little help from his friends.

5 comments:

TruthSeeker said...

I'm very tired...years of waiting for the Oregon Legislature to pull the rug out from under me and my wife. Never imagined when I retired.....

志源 said...

Actions speak louder than words. ........................................

80808waldod_brogden said...

happy to read~ thank you!........................................

A said...

Let's say that PERS was eliminated; an individual account system was enacted (with matching..maybe a tiered system..4%+matching up to ....7%. and disability insurance to take care of that piece).
Would it benefit those already retired because the PERS overhead would drastically be reduced? and the the benefits of those already retired would be better protected? Maybe outsource the benefit distribution administration?

mrfearless47 said...

The elimination of PERS and formation of a system such as you describe would not necessarily benefit retirees. It might shore up benefits for those already retired, but not necessarily. Remember that the existing PERS infrastructure would have to remain in place, complete with employer rates, to sustain the benefits of the already retired. The expenses of maintaining the existing system only for retirees loses one essential piece of the revenue stream - contributions from individuals, whether individually paid or paid for employee by employer. There is also a huge debt created by the employers when they took on Pension Obligation Bonds, which would have to be repaid no matter what.

The savings from eliminating PERS and replacing it with a simpler system are relatively small, but the costs of effecting such a change would be enormous - think many, many billions up front to convert all those existing accounts to individuals while meeting the IRS requirement to pay every member the current value of retirement benefits (this includes the employer match already paid, the value of sick leave, accrued vacation time, purchases of service, etc).

Anyone who thinks that terminating the existing PERS system for actives and inactives and complying with the IRS requirements is very foolish and extremely naive. Trust me that when people find out how much this little adventure will cost, the bloom will be off that rose unless they just don't care.