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Saturday, March 02, 2013

Long And Wasted Years

The Republicans in the Oregon Legislature, seeming to do Dr. No's bidding for him, have proposed a series of "reforms" or "clarifications" (to coin Rep Bruce Hanna's moronic term) to the PERS statutes, and  have laid waste to all the years of work done by public employees in Oregon.  There are more than 50 bills now introduced in the Oregon House and the Oregon Senate that would basically trash retirement benefits for near term retirees and those already retired.  This screw job has been brought to you via the trash mouthing of the imbecile Dennis Richardson (whose IQ parallels a box of dirt), Representative Bruce Hanna (who makes Richardson out to be a genius), Tim Knopp (whose IQ is measured on the Richter scale), and Jason Conger (who doesn't even register life on an EKG or EEG).  Of course, the logarithmic IQ of the Oregonian and the Statesman Journal contribute to the trashing.  These Republicans have taken our Governor's proposals (you know, Governor Kitzhaber who is registered as a Democrat, lives with some chick to whom he is not married, and represents the worst and the dumbest of Oregon politicians.  He is reputed to be an Oregon Physician but the only thing he is qualified to do is to use Oregon's Death with Dignity Act on himself) and have converted them into payday for Oregon Public Employers who cannot save a dime if it is put into a savings account for them and no one gives them the password or key.  I am embarrassed to be an Oregonian after looking at this slash and burn approach to retirement benefits in Oregon.  You were expecting your employers' promises to be kept after they denied you raise after raise.  Hah!  You are dumber than I thought you were.  The employers think you should kiss their butts for the privilege of working for them.  You want benefits - call the Aflac duck!

I don't even know where to begin trying to articulate the ridiculous bills introduced into the Legislature.  It is as if a bunch of monkeys got together into a room, were given a slate with all the appropriate catchphrases against PERS, and they randomly assembled a bunch of bills that could inflict the most damage possble on PERS members and retirees.  Law? Pshaw.  Let's just overwhelm the Oregon Supreme Court until they say uncle and overrule themselves from previous cases (Hughes, OSPSOA, Strunk).  The reps and senators have proposed enough bills and enough variants of those bills that it appears that they are playing spaghetti roulette.  How many bills can we throw against the wall until (a) one or two stick in the Legislature and (b) the Oregon Supreme Court rules the bills legal.  The OSBA completed the throw down yesterday with SB 754.  The OSBA represents the school boards of Oregon.  Let's not forget that many members of the OSBA are already PERS members and draw huge salaries (Chris Dudley, $200,000 per year and his doesnt have to hit any free throws).  The OSBA decided to combine all the offensive bills into one - cut PERS retiree COLA to 2% of the first $24K, stop pension spiking by preventing use of sick leave, overtime, and vacation for FAS, reduce Money Match annuity rate from the actuarially assumed interest rate (currently 8%) to the ridiculously outrageous rate of 4%, terminate the IAP and redirect future contributions to paying down the employER cost of the Full Formula retirement, eliminate both the SB 756 and the HB 3349 income tax subsidy for anyone living out of Oregon.  This cluster f**k would nearly halve retirement estimates for near term retirees and would perform a royal flush on retirees.  Never mind that much of this is probably not legal;  it guarantees that current and near-term retirees can continue to live in a state of dread for at least two more years.  Whatever the Supreme Court ultimately rules, it will be years before PERS gets off its collective ass to reinstate whatever the Legislature chooses to take away.  The courts have been loathe to prevent implementation, or to urge PERS to fix things after PERS finds out the approach is patently illegal.

Watch this space for more news on how our duly elected Legislators (liars many; ignorant more) deal with this group of bills designed to insure that no sane person will ever choose public employment, teaching, or service again for the rest of their lives.  They want quality instruction.  Look elsewhere.  I can't imagine anyone with more than two functioning neurons would ever choose teaching again.  The promises are nothing more than lies designed to lure you into a false sense of security.  Get out now!  I've warned you that there is no future in public employment.  Don't blame me.  Blame the Republicans and our Governor.


Unknown said...

My question. It appears Republicans have made a deal with Kitzhaber to insulate union funded Democrats although we are seeing more D's supporting the idea of Pers changes. I am wondering what kind of favors have been promised.

mrfearless47 said...

What evidence exists to support your claim that D's have been insulated? The proof is in the final vote, not the bill sponsorship.

PacificIslands said...

"Whatever the Supreme Court ultimately rules, it will be years before PERS gets off its collective ass to reinstate whatever the Legislature chooses to take away." I'm a bit confused as well as a bit terrified after reading this, but isn't adoption, if it happens, at least months away? And wouldn't that almost certainly be followed by court challenges? In the meantime, PERS would continue paying benefits. Is this a case where retirees would 'owe' PERS a portion of the benefits they received should the court uphold a bill that slashes the interest rate?

mrfearless47 said...

Adoption of any bills is probably several months away. But historically, whenever the Legislature has chosen to take away some benefit, the action is referred directly to the Oregon Supreme Court for adjudication. In 2003' the legislature passed a number of bills affecting both retirees and actives. The court ruled on the legal issues in early 2005, but PERS didn't begin its recovery efforts for 18 months after he court ruled. Then came more law suits and PERS finally started to act on decisions made by the court back in 2005 in 2012, PERS doesn't rush into anything.

mpguy said...

If PERS legislation results in cutting current benefits for retirees (by half or more, if the Republicans' bills were to be passed and signed into law), wouldn't retirees have the option of going back and taking the lump sum? Isn't there a mechanism to do this? Or, might the Dems (those that we can count among the honorable) amend these bills to provide a lump sum opt out based on the current balance of the retiree's PERS account (factoring in historic rates of crediting)?

carolyn said...

You need to read what Stand For Children Oregon has written about PERS. At least I think you should.

mrfearless47 said...

@mpguy. You have about 60 days after receiving your check to revisit your option to another, including the two different Tier 1 or Tier 2 lump sum options.

mugmkr said...

I am tier one and can retire in seven years or so. I left the school system after 17 years as a classified, certified, and administrative employee (I got to wear a lot of hats in my public education career!) to start my own business and have been trying to keep up with what is going on with the unending attacks on pers. Your blog has been most helpful. However I was more than a little surprised by your choice to call the opponents names and question their intelligence - in my view it makes you lose some credibility. I certainly understand your anger, of course, but I don't think it really helps the situation much.

One thing that has puzzled me though, is why did Gov. Kitzhaber not talk with us (the tier one folks) and get our feedback on the financial "crisis" that pers is supposedly experiencing, and get our feedback? It may have included some ideas of how to get out of this mess without having to break a contract. (Long shot, but talking never hurts.)

Another thought that has intrigued me is the fact that not once but twice the venerable Oregonian endorsed GWB for president - he who manufactured our nation's current economic woes. Were it not for his huge blunders, one cannot help think that pers would not be in such sorry shape. Thanks Oregonian!

Hopefully there will be something left by the time it's my turn to collect. I am not actually part of the problem, by the way, as I had the maximum amount of pers put into the variable account, thus any gains or losses my account accrued were a direct reflection of the market. I foolishly took a financial advisor's advice to max out the variable. Had I not, I would have had double what I now have in my peers. Live and learn, eh?

Thanks for the blog, take some breaths, somehow we'll get through this. (I hope).

Cheers, Owen

rikester said...

So, as I understand it, Oregon has enough money laying around to grant illegal aliens in-state tuition, but someone who worked for 27 years for Oregon and happened to move out of state, now gets penalized, in my case, over 6% a month, through a retroactive changing of the law. Talk about moving the goal posts! I guess I should have sneaked into Oregon instead of working for them.

TruthSeeker said...

Great Blog Marc, and spot on re: Governor Turn Coat. He's lookin' to how he will support himself in the manner he has been accoustomed too after he's out of office. Corporate lobbyist? Thanks for all you do.

Unknown said...

You are correct about the final vote but if you have the Democratic co-chairs proposing cola caps and Repubs introduced the bills it would appear there is some back room deals being made.

Done with that! said...

I've been a long time reader of this blog, and greatly appreciate the efforts of "Mr Fearless47". I really appreciate the implied anger in this last posting; it reflects my own opinions about the current Govenor and Legislature. Just wonder what took Marc so long to "lose it". Must have a calmer dispostion than me.

I'm a Tier 1 retiree, and living out of state. I joined PERS back in the day when you made your own contributions (6%), and you were promised a pension that was exempt from taxation by the State of Oregon. Things changed, and not only did our employers agree to cover our 6% in lieu of contractual pay raises, but we lost our tax free status. My benefit has not reached my last wage level, but apparently I'm making too much (this from people who don't know what I did, and for how long).

I'm amazed that this whole argument is couched in terms of excessive costs, reduction of number of teachers, firefighters, etc, when the REAL reason is simple jealosy.

Those people who demand reductions in proposed benefits for current public employees, and reductions in current benefits for retirees, are predominantly people who don't and won't be receiving PERS benefits. Yes they are taxpayers (some of them anyway)but they must be of the starry eyed variety if they think any of the claimed savings forced on PERs members will result in some tangible benefit to them. There will be no reduction in taxes paid to the government (either state or local), there will be no great influx of teachers, police and firemen willing to do those jobs for such lousy long term benefits, and each of the governing bodies will be asking for more tax revenue in the future to continue services.

Are we so gullible to think that any government, state or local, will wisely use (or save) the proposed savings caused by the Legislature? They will spend it, and then moan that they can't hire more teacher, or cops, or clerks because the cost of having employees is too high. That happens when people spend money that they didn't have to work for (re: tax income).

Just a couple of points. The emergency clause written into SB 754 means that there is no avenue for a veto referendum before implementation. I haven't looked at the other proposed bills, but suspect that the emergency clause is used there also. It is a Legislative ploy to keep the voting public from having a say before the law takes effect.

Maybe there is a legal beagle out there that can answer this. The emergency clause cannot be used in Oregon on bills that deal with revenue increases. Does the increase in revenue (tax money) given to each governing body (City, County, School Dist, etc), stemming from a reduction in PERS charges (assuming this or other bills pass) NOT constitute revenue increase? I know that if I no longer had to pay federal taxes on my income, I'd consider the money I now got to keep a revenue increase for my household.

Kathryn Cater said...

If they do away with the Full Formula and the Money Match options, will there be enough time for us who can retire to do so before it takes effect? I'm eligible on November 1st. Thanks!

david potts said...

And Where is the hand of ALEC in all this. Many of our esteemed legislators belong to this, particularly on the right.

nomzam said...

Somewhere I agree with you. But we can not blame our government, and you already know why. There is no reason to blame them because they can not hear us.
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