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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 5, 2013 10:46 AM. The previous post in this blog was Portland screws up another intersection. The next post in this blog is Portland water bureau hiring commercial realtors. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

No PERS for Ludlow

The Clackistani rebel chieftain has made good on his campaign promise not to sign up for benefits under the government employee pension system now that he's county chair. That will save the county tens of thousands of dollars over his four year terms, and it's money that Ludlow personally is leaving on the table to make a point. Good for him.

Comments (16)

WOW an act of self sacrifice, when was the last time we have seen a government official do that?

I can't remember it ever happening to be honest.

Wow, that is impressive. Walking the talk. How refreshing.
Great personal cost to him. Thanks, Chair Ludlow!

It's escaping me how this is the solution to the problems of the public employee retirement system.

Allan L: curious to read your solution(s).

For one thing, Allan, it's a message. Using the little bit of bullhorn that he has. For another, it's a campaign promise kept.

I have no idea what his PERS take would have been had he opted in, but I do know individuals who even late in their careers take government jobs (for example, judge) almost just to get a few PERS years in and a retirement package they covet.

I believe he doesn't "need" the money. Wish someone would pass the word to Mike Bellotti. Neither does he.

Could be an interesting discussion around ethics and character as to whether one would or should ever not take something they legally can.

I've thought Bellotti could make a huge statement. Do something for the state. Maybe his hideous example will make the state do something for itself: eg, exclude university athletic department employees from PERS.

Putting one's money where one's mouth is. How refreshing. Now to get the real pigs that are already lined up at the trough to give back a slice of their largess.

Certainly many short time legislators and councilpersons, such as John Ludlow, must have viable retirement programs before they enter the public sector for brief periods of service. The concept of citizen legislator expects that public figures serve for brief stints, not their entire careers. How refreshing to see an example being set.

Acts of sacrifice are not always altruistic. Sam Adams refused to take a step increase when he was a city commissioner. All the others accepted the increase.

Don't get me wrong. I was, and am, a big supporter of Ludlow. I'm just saying....

He wouldn't have gotten PERS. He would have gotten OPSRP, which has been in place since 2003.

When people get all hacked off about PERS, I think what the majority of them are envisioning is the Tier 1 employee making more in retirement than they made while working. There are those employees, but not very many of them in comparison to those who never make it to retirement, or retire under some other formula making less.

Ludlow's potential benefit, if he were able to retire after a term as commissioner would be 1.5 percent multiplied by years of service, multiplied by final average salary. If you take his final average as 77K, that makes his retirement pension about 385 dollars a month. And I don't think he'd be vested after one term as commissioner, and not sure how old he is but I don't know if he could "retire" under the system.

I view his actions as symbolic and kudos to him for keeping his promise. But as to the heart of the matter, I don't think it means a whole lot. In order to "fix" PERS, at least the problems people are really talking about, you'd have to roll back the clock to the late 70s and early 80s. It's problematic since these benefits have already been promised in bargaining. What if your employer of 20+ years came to you and said they'd need you to pay back 15% of your salary already received? You'd feel slighted.

Public employees will/do feel the same way. They counted on something because it was part of their conditions of employment and probably factored into their lifetime plans. If that is altered or taken, they will ask what is given in return.

When ENRON shafted longtime employees by massive fraud, ruining retirements and lives, some were prosecuted. Is it OK for the State of Oregon to pull the same type of move, because it's a state government?

Very nice defense, Eric L. Except that Enron did not just shaft employees,it shafted everyone. Exactly what the PERS board did in the 80s, behind closed doors, comprised only of beneficiaries to the system, constructing even then an unsustainable payout, predicated on the false premise that state employees were not otherwise garnering fair wages.

The State of Oregon is now largely owned by PERS beneficiaries because it is funded by them. It is not the State of Oregon that is trying to "pull this move;" it is the taxpayers outside of the benefit program who are trying to "fix PERS" -- for all of us.

He wouldn't have gotten PERS. He would have gotten OPSRP

Whoopee.

Here's the way the O describes what he would have gotten, and what it would have cost:

The 11.99 percent includes 6.13 percent that the employer puts in for a member’s retirement, plus 5.86 percent to cover the system’s "unfunded actuarial liability," or the money needed to pay for current and future retirees. In addition, the county pays -- or "picks up" -- the 6 percent the employee is required to contribute on his or her behalf.

That's the employer contributing 17.99% of salary into a pension, with the employee putting in nothing. That is freaking obscene for a public employee.

If that is altered or taken, they will ask what is given in return.

Avoidance of default would be pretty good.

One key for me is that participation in any investment/retirement scheme must be voluntary. Meaning that each participant has the freedom to opt out at the outset of their employment and to withdraw from it at any time thereafter.
A proper rebel here would demand to get cash today instead. What is the value of this cash-today-substitute for PERS participation? I would like to see a court opinion that supports an individual's right to opt out -- to set an example to be followed by others.
They could still contribute to a qualified retirement plan run by private folks. That is, they do not need to lose the benefit of reduced federal taxes for choosing voluntarily to save.
The government has no business running an investment fund funded by captive investors. See Sprague v. Straub, 252 Or 507 (1969) for a decision that allowed the PERS mess to grow.

"That's the employer contributing 17.99% of salary into a pension, with the employee putting in nothing. That is freaking obscene for a public employee."

Very well stated. All about their Cadillac retirement benefit.

Next, we can move on to their Gold Plated healthcare package. $1500 per month for the employee and their family, with maybe a $100/mo co-pay. Tack on another $18,000 per year for each state employee, be they a $50k teacher or a $30k janitor. Now you see why even the lowest ranking employee gets a $55-60k compensation (salary and benefits both) package.

That is freaking obscene for a public employee.

Amen.

Alan L - The difference? Now we only have to take $999.995M out of the general fund this session instead of $1B for EXTRA PERS contributions.

I don't have a problem with the taxpayers wanting to reduce public employee benefits. I understand it completely. What I am saying is you have to make the reduction in benefits apply to people who didn't already sign up for something else.

Health care, wages, hours of work, incentive pays, etc are all topics of bargaining. PERS could probably be brought up in collective bargaining as well. The fact of the matter is Tier 1 PERS hasn't been offered since 1998, and "PERS" hasn't been offered to employees in about 10 years. The employees hired in the past 10 years aren't going to get "PERS" as complained about in the Oregonian articles.

Jack, hopefully you get involved in local government so you can be on the other side of the bargaining team and lay out what would be a reasonable retirement package for public employees. I'd be curious to know what everyone thinks (taxpayers) is a reasonable retirement, and what it would compare to in the private sector. Thing that's popped up in my mind is PERS, etc are now a problem because the economy sucks. I don't remember anyone arguing the other direction when the economy was good though.

You can't have a political career in Oregon if you try to talk sense to the unions about pensions. Just ask Greg Macpherson.

Also, please stop with "It isn't PERS." All of these people are covered by the Oregon public employee retirement system, or PERS for short. Yes, there are different levels of benefit, depending how insane the legislature was when you were hired. But it's all PERS.


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