Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown’s public employee pension reduction bill may wind up costing Oregonians themselves, according to proposals made by her task force at a Monday meeting held at Portland State University.
The proposals include putting a surcharge of up to 10% on state fees such as hunting licenses and auto registrations, and allowing cities and counties to raise alcohol and tobacco taxes .
Governor Brown seeking to reduce Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System’s (PERS) unfunded liability by $5 billion. Since she and legislators haven’t been able to agree on any pension reform, Brown and her task force have been encouraged to think outside the box to make the cuts.
Task force chairman and former Nike CFO Don Blair suggested Oregon could find ways to profit from the liquor business by raising beer and wine taxes, which he said haven’t increased in decades, reported Jefferson Public Radio.
Blair noted state-owned workers compensation insurer Saif could either reduce dividends to policy holders, or be delegated to the private sector.
“There may be some impact to workers comp premiums,” Blair said, adding that Oregon has “among the lowest workers comp premiums in the United States.”
Brown’s task force is also seeking to find alternate ways to raise money without raising taxpayer costs, such as selling surplus property and sending some legal settlements towards the pension deficit.
Task force members added that by lowering the liabilities would help curb the increases to employer pension costs.
The task force is scheduled to deliver its report on the fund to Governor Brown by November 1. Blair said he expects Brown to choose from several options before deciding which proposals to take to legislators.