SALEM, OR -- Oregon's Senate passed a bipartisan PERS reform bill Thursday. Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) admits it won't solve the $26 billion unfunded liability, but says it's a step in the right direction. "There were some good elements of the bill, and there were some bad elements of the bill. But ultimately, the good element is that it saves millions of dollars for the Bend-La Pine and Redmond School Districts in terms of their PERS rates, which is desperately needed for them. Otherwise, even though they're getting more money [in the state budget], they would be in a position of potentially be making more cuts; and we just can't have that." He adds, "In politics, you hopefully get some of what you want, and I think this is the case with PERS reform. I don't think anybody's declaring victory; there's no celebrating, because there's still a substantial problem."
Knopp tells KBND News the bill keeps new state funding going to classrooms but it doesn't pay back the debt. And, he says, public employees don't get everything they wanted, "Lots of times in legislature, you get the opportunity to vote on things that both sides don't particularly like, and this is one of those cases where both sides really don't like the solution. But, it's the only solution that we could get in a super minority in both the House and the Senate, here in Oregon, in 2019."
He says the legislation provides temporary relief, so the rate at which schools must pay the PERS debt stays lower, which should save millions of dollars. The bill now heads to the Oregon House.