From the looks of things, the Legislature may finally be done with PERS for this session. The official May revenue forecast for the 2013-15 biennium came yesterday and, as expected, will bring an additional $275 million in tax and other revenue to the state coffers. Since this makes up the difference between the savings already anticipated from SB 822 and the revenue increases needed to balance the budget that Republicans have been unwilling to support, there is no need for the additional revenue. The Governor gave Senate and House leaders until 5 p.m. yesterday to find a compromise on additional revenue to begin "rebuilding" school funds. They couldn't find a compromise even though our "friends" on the D side would have tossed inactive PERS members into the trough in exchange for additional taxes. That didn't happen and the Governor issued a press release yesterday releasing the parties from any further obligation to seek compromises and told them to finalize budgets with the money expected to be available from the revenue forecasts.
Thus, at least for the time being, there may be a weekend to relax and possibly we can be done with this whole fiasco for another Legislative session. I intend to continue to follow this closely because, as they say, it ain't over until Leonard Cohen sings "Hallelujah" upon sine die.
Do keep in mind, especially for those of you away from Oregon, that the Legislature now meets annually, although the even year sessions are limited to 60 days and deal mostly with budget issues. Since PERS is a budget issue it is entirely possible that many of these same proposals could reappear in 2014. It is also possible that the Rs may try something very sneaky before the end of this session (e.g. Hospital tax), that could throw the budget completely out of whack and bring back the PERS monster even more ferociously.
So, stay tuned, as always. PERS is in the news continuously. The PERS Board will meet at the end of May to consider next steps in the Assumed Interest Rate discussion and the odds are that a reduction to 7.5% (or possibly 7.25%) will be on the table. The rate will be adopted at the July meeting.
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