Much confusion, anxiety, anger, and doubt continue to flood the Oregon Capitol as SB 822 passed through the Senate on a strict party line vote of 16-14. The vote was delayed 2 days because Senator Richard Devlin, one of the Bill's sponsors was in the hospital for chest pains. (This is probably the signal that Devlin may not run again, something that may energize those on the PERS side who are angry with Devlin for his sponsorship of SB 822).
The issue now is that the entire Co-Chairs' budget depends on savings from SB 822, which include COLA cuts for PERS retirees, removing the income tax subsidy for 19,000 PERS retirees living out of Oregon, and from a delayed billing of employers for $350 million of due and payable PERS payments. The delay will end up costing employers more than they save because the interest on the obligation will continue to accrue until the money is repaid. Moreover, the budget also includes approximately $275 million in revenue increases that require a 60% majority in the House to pass. The D's on the House side are not as enamored with SB 822, but they don't want to cut as deeply as the R's on either House or Senate side.
This has created consternation and anguish and some conflicting rumors emerging out of Salem. According to one set of rumors, the Ds have lined up enough support from the needed Rs to pass SB 822 as is, as well as to enact the $275 million in revenue measures. On the other side, there are rumors that the Rs will not agree to the additional $275 million in revenue without more significant cuts to PERS.
So, at this point in the game, the safest suggestion is to watch closely what goes on in the Legislature and not stop writing legislators. The game is far from over; indeed, it MAY just be beginning and if that is the case, the weight retirees may carry might get larger. The next three or four weeks will be critical to the outcome of the session. Anyone who suggests that the Legislature is "done" with PERS for this session hasn't been paying close attention.