Well, the Oregon Legislature done screwed the pooch this time. It is with rage that I report that the only people targeted to pay for the state's apparent financial difficulties are all current PERS retirees and all future PERS retirees. Our Democratic supporters abandoned any sense of rationality to impose, on a strict party line vote, a reduction of modest to significant proportions on more than half of current PERS retirees by first reducing the Cost-of-Living Increase, and then completely decoupling the annual COLA from anything that resembles an increase in the cost-of-living. Not one Democrat had the cajones to oppose this stupidity, not one Democrat asked the obvious question of what happens when the Oregon Supreme Court sends this measure back with a "you can't do that" ruling, and not one Democrat demanded that the money either be lockboxes until the court rules, or demanded any form of accountability from the schools who will harvest this money and use it to seed a bigger administrative structure than they have now. Lest anyone doubt my predictions, ask in a couple of years for every school district to account for exactly where every penny of the PERS theft money went and how many new teachers, classroom supplies, and teaching materials this blood money bought. I'm betting that of $400 million (before the OSC says "Nope") will be squandered in unimaginable ways, and few, if any, new teachers will be dotting the rolls of any of the school districts who are part of the OSBA (sponsors of the punitive SB 754).
As if things weren't bad enough, Tina Kotek, Speaker of the Oregon House, declared that she had the needed votes to pass the other piece of legislation required to balance the budget - a $275 million change to the deduction structure for higher income individuals. When the time came for a vote, her promised two republican votes vanished quicker than $50 bucks in a military poker game. Tina was played for a fool and ended up being the fool. Now she's going to find out that she not only can't trust those who supported her, but those who promise to support her.
And, the big news is, of course, that the PERS tithe isn't big enough for those wheelers and dealers at the Oregonian, who continue to demand a more gigantic pound of flesh from future PERS retirees by adopting the draconian plan introduced by the rapists from the OSBA, and its rapist-in-chief, highly paid lawyer Bill Gary, and his smarmy and unctuous sidekick, bald Jim Green. I don't know whether there is time for this to get through the process before sine die but you can rest assured that the minority party is going to put the squeeze on the pansy-ass D's in the Legislature to capitulate or get no additional revenue for the school budgets. The D's have placed themselves in this no-win situation - they have pissed off the unions, all of the union's constituencies, public retirees, the major newspapers, and all of the R's in and out of the current legislature. That is an ugly place to be. You want, desperately, to hold on to your majority, but everything you do keeps working to cost you seat after seat. And you've placed the unions in a very precarious position. No union official I've talked to wants to support any of the Democratic hacks in the current Legislature, but the alternative, the mean-spirited, ugly mouthed, and vicious Republicans represent an even worse alternative. Our Governor, a weak-ass, self-absorbed, FORMER ER doc, has no truck with the Legislature and nothing to really hold over anyone's head. His head is either in the clouds, in the rivers, or in Cynthia's ….."
So, will 2014 become the year that the shit hits the fan? I think so. I think that the political battle lines in Oregon are being drawn so starply that if the R's can run a rational and moderate candidate for Gov (no tea- baggers need apply), they could easily defeat whoever the D's run, whether KitzRobber or another poor schmuck with the same tired agenda. Similarly, only D's in safe districts stand a chance of being reelected. For them, "safe" is relative and their behavior this session is earning them the undying enmity of a constituency of nearly 325,000 PERS members and retirees.
If you are tired of being the Bank of Oregon, the safe (SAIF) where the only money people think about resides, then how you behave in the next year will determine what the fate of Oregon's PERS will be and how secure our retirements will remain.
I'm just tired of all this. For all you Democrats out there, especially those in the Legislature, don't come looking to me for support or for understanding. You've just made me the cash cow for the Oregon budget and I'm spitting mad. You want money, go ask someone else. You want to retain control of the Legislature, trying keeping your word. You want to remain in office, stop drooling every time the Oregonian publishes a naughty editorial excoriating you about your record. Why not ask the Oregonian what their retirement plan looks like. Why not suggest that the Oregonian's editors be taxed on their pensions.
My letter to all Legislators this year (pardon my language): Dear Legislator: Fuck you. Strong letter follows. Excuse me while I go shed more tears of rage.