From the OSFFC
Organizing around PERS
Call to Action!
The Governor has proposed to amend PERS to place a cap on the amount of COLA benefits paid to retirees, limiting COLA increases to the first $24,000 per year of benefits. This in effect places a hard $480 annual cap on PERS COLA increases. This cap will have a substantial effect on future and current retired firefighters pensions. You should contact your legislator and encourage them to vote no when and if this proposal comes before them.
Who is my legislator and how do I contact them?
• Use this link to write to your state Senator and State Representative. Message points are listed below.
• Contact them by phone, email, or by letter.
• Forward any responses to email@example.com
Message to Legislators/Governor:
• Encourage them to vote NO on the proposal to eliminate or reduce the PERS COLA increase for firefighters.
• The Governor’s proposal to eliminate the COLA for retirees is unfair, unnecessary and unconstitutional.
• This proposal violates the constitution and breaks a contract. We need to honor the promise made to tens-of-thousands of hard working Oregonians over the course of their careers in public service.
• When considering changes to PERS please consider the following criteria:
o The proposal should save actual money in the short term while still maintaining the health and affordability of the system in the long run.
o The proposal must be constitutional. We can’t go back on the promises made to Oregonians who have worked hard their whole life. It’s wrong and it will end up costing the state millions in litigation.
o The proposal must be fair. We can’t create a system of winners and losers. And we can’t unjustly punish working and middle class families for a problem that Wall Street created that has affected all retirement plans, public and private.
Responses to Potential Questions:
Doesn’t this proposal only impact current retirees?
No, not at all. Everyone who has worked, or is currently working, in public service will be impacted. Current and future PERS, retirees would no longer receive a cost of living adjustment after the first $24,000 of retirement benefits.
How did the Governor decide that anything above $24,000 was the right amount to eliminate the COLA?
The $24,000 figure appears to be entirely arbitrary. It could just as easily been the first $12,000 or the first $48,000, and there’s no certainty that it won’t be lowered in the future. It’s important to note, however, that Kitzhaber’s proposal hits middle class families the hardest. If you’re an upper-income retiree, you are in a better position to absorb the loss of income. But if you have a modest retirement income and are already living on the margins, this proposal will make it even harder to make ends meet.
The Governor said this will raise $800 million to invest schools and other vital services. Don’t schools and local governments need that money?
Yes, schools and other public services need more funding, but not the way to provide this funding. This money will likely never make it into our classrooms or to other services Oregonians value. This proposal will be tied up in the courts for years and will cost tax payers millions of dollars to litigate. Even if it were not a violation of workers and retirees’ contract rights, the proposal is unfair in that it singles out current and future retirees and asks them to come up with cash required to fund Oregon’s schools and vital services.
Additionally, this proposal does nothing to backfill local school and other vital services budgets.
It will not ‘save’ any money. It just shifts the burden to retirees and current employees. In fact, the proposal may force many Oregonians to retire into poverty and then have to rely on taxpayer-funded services for the care they need.
Is this legal?
Oregon Courts have already decided that a similar proposal is unconstitutional. The courts have said loud and clear that a promise is a promise and this proposal directly violates existing contracts.