The Daily Astorian declares some Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) reforms — those that would result in less economically secure state workers — “solid ideas” ("Our View: Solid ideas for restructuring PERS," Jan. 3). So, let’s look at a couple of other ideas that don’t amount to an attack on public employees’ well being, but still would reduce PERS public employers’ costs.
1. Direct the expected $724 million upcoming state kicker to the PERS system to reduce the unfunded actuarial liability. The Legislature is empowered to redirect that kicker from taxpayer kicker refunds to other uses, like funding the PERS system. After all, the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers will get only an average of only $13. Not getting the kicker would not be a hardship, so let’s just divert the whole kicker to a higher purpose — PERS reform.
2. The Legislature could create a new tax surcharge on current benefits paid to the top 7 percent of PERS beneficiaries, those making over $6,001 to as much as $76,111 monthly. That revenue would be directed to the PERS funding difficulties. Applying a conservative surcharge of 7 percent on the PERS income of the top 7 percent would generate new revenue exceeding $54 million/annually at minimum. Making the flat 7 percent surcharge progressive would generate even more revenue.
Let’s get these two options into the public conversation, and on the minds of our elected officials in Salem.