Gold-Plated Public Pensions Threaten Our Safety

By Lars Larson

Gold plated public pensions threaten our safety.  Case in point, the PERS system now stands 21 billion dollars short of the money it promised to pay public workers when they retire.  Those promises come from cowardly politicians who found it easier to promise big pensions than to deliver salary increases they would have had to explain to voters.  

Disgraced former Governor John Kitzhaber’s so called “solution” was to unilaterally take away contract pension benefits. The courts struck that down: Duh.

Now there are but two choices:  Raise taxes by billions of dollars without any increase in public services, or, cut back services dramatically to pay the golden pensions. It means fewer teachers and cops.  

I have a third solution.  Privatize a lot of government.  Privatize much of the DMV.  Privatize a lot of human service.  Cut back the almost five thousand employees at ODOT. That not only frees up a lot of funds, but it reduces future pensions dramatically and stops the bleeding.  

My bet is political cowardice will rule the day, taxes will skyrocket, public services disappear and citizens, as usual, get the shaft.    

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