SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Education Association says Governor Kate Brown’s plan to cut public employee pensions feels nothing short of an “unbelievable betrayal.”
However, for those who have been waiting for years to see how the state’s leaders would take on the growing PERS crisis, they say something needed to be done.
“This problem has been a long time coming, however, I’m not willing to go another session without taking significant steps to stabilize school rates and address the pers unfunded liability,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown.
Friday, Governor Brown revealed a new plan to tackle Oregon’s growing financial burden from the Public Employees Retirement System or PERS.
“We know another recession is coming at some point,” she said. “The system is ill-prepared for the next economic downturn.”
To alleviate Oregon’s pension debt, estimated at 27-billion dollars, the governor’s plan includes a number of cuts affecting taxpayers and businesses.
But what’s drawing significant attention and the ire of the Oregon Education Association, is her idea to reduce pension benefits for the 175,000 state, local, and school employees covered by PERS.
“We can’t balance school budgets on the backs of the very people who serve our students,” said John Larson, President of the Oregon Education Association.
After months of teachers rallying across the state, asking the government to prevent layoffs, keep class sizes small and much more,
the OEA says it never dreamed Governor Brown would betray them.
“Educators around the state helped elect Governor Brown just five months ago based on the values we thought we shared,” said Larson.
Medford Republican State Representative Kim Wallan’s a former Medford school board member who comes from a family of teachers. She says she doesn’t agree with everything the governor unveiled Friday, but says the state must do something about PERS.
“If it’s not this way, it’s going to be in a higher tax,” said Wallan. “Because the alternative, is bankruptcy.”
To learn more about the governor’s plan including how it could take away the majority of your kicker rebate, click here.
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia. She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.