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  • PERS Benefits under ATTACK in Legislature
    Updated On: Apr 05, 2013
    EMERGENCYe-lert     •     March 26, 2013
    Edited by Don Loving, Oregon AFSCME Communications Director

    We don’t do this often, but circumstances dictate we send you this extra, EMERGENCY missive today. As you are probably aware from local news reports, the proverbial you-know-what has hit the fan in regard to PERS, and we need immediate action!

    Yesterday (March 25) the Co-Chairs of the budget-writing Ways and Means Committee, Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) and Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland) dropped Senate Bill 822, their own “fix” of PERS. SB 822 “reforms” PERS by cutting retirees’ COLA by approximately $400 million this biennium, and eliminates the tax reimbursement for retirees living out of Oregon for an additional $55 million in savings.

    Forces are in play to railroad this legislation through on a very fast track. The Senate Rules Committee has scheduled a public hearing and possible work session on SB 822 for tomorrow, March 27, at 3 p.m. We urgently need you to do the following:

    1) Call your legislators! You can dial (800) 332-2313 statewide or (503) 986-1187 from the Salem local calling area, then ask to be connected to your state senator and/or state representative. If you are unsure who your legislators are, don’t be embarrassed, just be proactive and click here to jump to an easy fill-in-your-address form that will identify your state representative and senator.

    2) Contact each member of the Senate Rules Committee! These are the people with the first vote on this item. Here are their names (with e-mail links) and their direct dial lines in Salem:

    Sen. Diane Rosenbaum (D-Portland), Chair — (503) 986-1700
    Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day), Vice Chair — (503) 986-1950
    Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) — (503) 986-1706
    Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) — (503) 986-1718
    Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) — (503) 986-1715

    3) E-mail your legislators! The Oregon Legislature tab of the Council 75 website has e-mail links for every state legislator.

    4) Attend the hearing in Salem Wednesday if you can. We want to provide a word of caution here, however. Tomorrow is already a Higher Education Lobby Day, and the capitol (and the hearing room) will likely be packed. If you come, you could very well get shunted off to an overflow room. We’d love to have you, but please, focus your efforts on making calls and e-mails first!


    Any sort of personalized story is always preferable. That said, if you need help, you should direct your comments in line as follows:

     • It’s unfair to balance the state’s budget on the backs of retirees. Retired PERS members held up their end of the bargain, did their jobs and were told at retirement that this is what they’d be receiving. The Legislature cannot go back and break that promise.

     • SB 822 is likely illegal. Oregon courts drew a clear line following the 2003 PERS reforms about what can and can’t be done, emphasizing “a promise is a promise” for those already retired. It makes no sense to waste millions in legal fees on legislation that will be tied up in court for years, ultimately saving no money.

     • SB 822 sidesteps the need for corporations and the wealthiest Oregonians, who have enjoyed most of the benefit of the economic recovery to date, to step up and share in the sacrifice. Oregon forfeits billions of revenue each year in tax breaks and loopholes that should be vigorously reviewed before targeting retirees and middle class families.

    The hearing on SB 822 tomorrow marks the first major salvo in the battle over PERS this session. PLEASE, we neeed your response on this vital issue! Thank you

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