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Wed May 29, 2019, 07:53 AM

Oregon Senate approves cut to PERS, public employee retirement benefits

The Oregon Senate sent the House a short-term pension fix Thursday cutting public employee retirement benefits, a politically difficult vote for Democrats who say they were forced to choose between slashing benefits or letting employer interest rates rise.

Ultimately, some who were originally against the proposal reluctantly came around, saying higher interest rates would eat into budgets and lead to layoffs in the public sector.

"My heart is broken today because my back is against the wall," said Sen. James Manning, Jr., a Democrat who voted yes after signaling his opposition earlier this week. "I have two worlds that are colliding today__ how do I respond?"

The plan, which the Senate approved by a 16 to 12 vote Thursday, essentially refinances the $25 billion in debt incurred from the Public Employee Retirement System, known as PERS. It extends the state's repayment period from 20 to 22 years, which is meant to shield employers from an impending interest rate hike in the upcoming years.

Read more: https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/politics/2019/05/23/oregon-senate-approves-cut-pers-public-employee-retirement-benefits/1211098001/

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