Public Employees Retirement System
PERS was created. The employer (taxpayers) and employees both contributed to the plan. Judges and legislators were excluded because of the possibility of a future conflict of interest. They participated in a separate plan.
State legislators authorized unused sick to be used in determining the employees final average salary.
The Oregon Attorney General reversed an existing opinion and allowed legislators to join PERS. This opened the floodgates for future conflicts of interest which came rapidly.
Legislators passed laws:
• Allowing any legislator to join PERS retroactively.
• Creating a guaranteed rate of return on PERS accounts.
• Allowing legislators to earn retirement credit after turning age 65.
Legislators pass the 'pick-up' law that allowed the employer (taxpayers) to pay the employee portion of PERS which is currently 6 percent of gross payroll, except for judges which receive 7 percent. This law was to expire in 1981.
Approximately 70 percent of employers pay the employee portion. Employers (taxpayers) statewide currently pick up around $400 million per year of the employee contribution.
Legislators made the PERS pick-up law which was to expire in 1981 permanent.
Eighty-four of the ninety members of the legislature are PERS members.
Legislation is passed marking the beginning of judges having a conflict of interest in hearing any PERS related case. Additional legislation includes
• Oregon judges joining PERS if they are under 72 years of age.
• Requiring all future judges under 72 join PERS.
• Requiring the citizens of Oregon pick-up the judges 7 percent PERS contribution.
PERS returns for this year were minus (-) 7.84 percent which resulted in approximately 16 percent employer (taxpayer) contribution to equal the minimum guaranteed return of 8 percent.
Eighty-two of the ninety members of the legislature are now PERS members. Legislators pass a law establishing PERS funding as Oregon's highest financial priority. The guaranteed rate of return on PERS accounts is now 8 percent.
Oregon voters used the initiative and referendum process to pass Ballot Measure 8 which resulted in
• Elimination of PERS pick-up law (1979).
• Elimination of guaranteed rate of return (1975).
• Elimination of unused sick leave to boost the employees final average salary (1973).
PERS members sued to have Ballot Measure 8 declared unconstitutional.
The Oregon Supreme Court in a 4 to 3 vote ruled Ballot Measure 8 to be unconstitutional nullified the will of over 600,000 registered voters. All justices of the court were PERS members.
To put Ballot Measure 8 savings into a dollar perspective, during the Oregon biennium budget beginning July 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2013 Oregon taxpayers will pay nearly $2 billion dollars just for the employee PERS pick-up, and to partially bolster PERS 2008 investment losses of about 23 percent in the $60+ billion PERS portfolio.
An excellent reference source for the legislative history of the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System is Bend Oregon attorney
Dan Re. Click here
for his website.
Another great source of current and archived information on PERS by Dan Re is Inrethepeople's Blog located here
For good general information online about PERS go here
For current news articles on PERS - go to OregonLive here
For a good cry, go here
to see the Top 947 retired PERS beneficiaries making more than $100,000 each year for life.
Perhaps the best single source for PERS documents directly from PERS is the PERS Agency News Archive. This covers
the most Popular Documents & the most Recent Documents.
For what may be the best single news article on the history of PERS check out the 2002 article by Brent Walth
- The Oregonian titled "The PERS Crisis: How the PERS Crisis Occurred". The article is quite long but well worth reading
for anyone interested in the subject. To read the article online click here
. To download the document click
Dennis Richardson - Oregon State Representative (Fourth District) has provided a great amount of PERS information in his
newsletters including a 2-Part Newsletter March/April 2010. You can go to his archived newsletter page here
click on the March 18 and April 10, 2010 newsletters.
PERS Document Downloads
New: Scroll down for PERS document downloads.