The $22 Billion Question: Understanding PERS

  • Source: Jefferson Public Radio
  • Published: 01/10/2019 06:46 PM

Maybe you already know a lot about Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System. Or maybe you feel like you should know more, but every time you try to learn about it your eyes start to glaze over. Most likely, you know enough about PERS to know that there’s a problem — a problem that amounts to $22 billion. Basically, there’s a gigantic gap between what public employers owe in pension costs and the money they actually have. And, obviously, every dollar that's spent on pensions can’t be spent on anything else. You can really boil it down to these big questions: What do we — as a state — owe to the people who were promised a certain kind of retirement? What does everyone deserve, in terms of crucial public services like education and public safety? And what happens if the answers to those first two questions are at odds?


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