(Salem, OR) — Governor Kitzhaber today called on Democratic and Republican leaders to move quickly on developing a framework for a balanced budget that includes additional savings in the Public Employee Retirement System and new revenue that the state can use to boost investment in P-20 education and other critical state services.
"We have come to a critical point in the session," said Governor Kitzhaber. "Both my recommended budget and the Co-Chairs budget included PERS reforms and new revenue. We’ve made some progress on PERS, but we need to do more to meet our responsibilities to public education and other public services that are essential to our economic recovery and to the well-being of our citizens."
The Governor outlined a two-part proposal that includes additional reforms to PERS, $200 million in new revenue, and a freestanding initiative to develop a workgroup that would evaluate reducing tax rates for Oregon small businesses. The PERS reforms would modify the system’s use of money match by inactive members. Combined with changes from Senate Bill 822, this modification would produce up to $902 million in savings this biennium while reducing the unfunded actuarial liability in the retirement fund by up to $4.2 billion, or approximately 25 percent.
Governor Kitzhaber praised legislators’ history of cooperation. "A partisan impasse is not what Oregonians expect from a Legislature that made history for its bipartisan approach to address the huge budget crisis that confronted our state just two years ago." He continued, "I look forward to working with legislators on this proposal to create a budget of which we can all be proud."
The Governor concluded the press conference by calling on Republicans and Democrats to work out a "true compromise" in which all parties move toward the center to create a solution that helps position Oregon for a stronger economic future and concludes the 77th Legislative session on time.
Tim Raphael, 503-689-6117
Amy Wojcicki, 503-689-5324