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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Senate Passes Pension Cutting Plan

M.O. Stevens
Wikimedia -

  SALEM, Ore. – Cost cutting to Oregon’s public sector pension system is on the fast track. The Oregon House could vote as soon as next week on a controversial proposal to cut benefits for retired public employees. The Oregon Senate approved the measure Thursday on a party-line vote.

The proposal would limit cost of living increases to retired public employees, including teachers, city and state workers. The Democrats who crafted the plan say they tried to shield those earning the smallest pensions. They say the money it saves would be used to prevent cuts to education, healthcare and other public services.

Public employee unions have blasted the plan and promise to challenge it in court. Republicans say the proposal doesn't go far enough. But Democratic Senator Richard Devlin says the measure is the best option given the circumstances.

"While our proposal is not perfect, we have crafted a proposal that we believe will be upheld," Devlin says. "It will have savings. Clear savings."

Even some of Devlin's fellow Democrats said during the floor debate that they thought the proposal fell short of what is needed to rein in pension costs.

On the Web:

SB 822: PERS cost-of-living adjustment - Oregon Legislature