Business leaders fret about pension system

Politicians mum, while business leaders stress importance of public pension reform.

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Politicians were mum, while business leaders stressed the importance of public pension reform at the Oregon Leadership Summit.

The issue was the main topic of conversation at a “breakout session” on Monday.

They urged lawmakers not to ignore the problem: an $18 billion-and-growing funding deficit in the Public Employees Retirement System. In order to bail it out, required payments from government employers will go up by 20 percent in each of the next three budget cycles, said Steve Rodeman, PERS executive director.

By 2021, that means schools, municipalities and government agencies will be dedicating almost one-third of their payroll dollars to the retirement system.

John Tapogna, an economist with ECONorthwest, said legislators had designed an “unusually exotic” and expensive pension system. He called it a generational mistake, and said the state continues to deal with its aftermath. 


The state’s situation was made more dire earlier this year when the Supreme Court deemed a 2013 solution unconstitutional.

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