Legislature plows forward with PERS reform despite emotional loss of senator
Monday, June 3, 2019
For a short week, it was extremely busy and emotional.
Sen. Jackie Winters, a great leader, died Wednesday, May 29. The Senate took the rest of the week off to mourn.
On Thursday, the House finally voted on the Public Employees Retirement System cost containment bill, Senate Bill 1049, under a special order of business that moved it up the agenda.
Although the PERS bill isn’t exactly what OSBA would have preferred, it is expected to hold rates steady for the 2021-23 biennium.
The bill is expected to reduce average employer rates by more than 5 percentage points. The PERS actuaries have not officially set the 2021-23 rate, but the estimated increase is around 6.5 percentage points. With SB 1049, the new increase would be a little more than 1 percentage point, which does not include any rate reduction for side accounts.
Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, was among the most surprising legislators speaking in favor of the PERS bill. He has aggressively supported and pushed all union-related bills and issues, and unions strongly opposed SB 1049. Holvey, however, spoke of the need to do something about the PERS crisis for the good of the state.
With the passage of the Student Success Act, paperwork has already been filed to challenge the tax portion. The Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce must obtain 75,000 signatures within 90 days of the close of session to refer the issue to voters.
I am not surprised, but it means our work is not done. School board members will need to continue to inform their communities and discuss the need to increase education funding. School board members need to help voters understand why a tax increase on businesses with receipts over $1 million is good for Oregon.
OSBA has begun working on the next campaign phase, and coalitions are forming to deal with a referral campaign.We will keep you informed on progress and how you can help.
So what’s left with less than a month to sine die? The House looks to be back on track to get working on its backlog of bills, and the Senate is clearing its calendar daily, keeping the legislative process moving forward.
OSBA’s major priorities — the Student Success Act, PERS reform and the State School Fund — have passed, but we remain vigilant on a variety of bills that will affect schools.