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Oregon Court Throws Out Bulk Of Public Pension Overhaul Measures

The Oregon Supreme court has overturned a key piece of reforms to the state's public pension system.
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The Oregon Supreme court has overturned a key piece of reforms to the state's public pension system.

The Oregon Supreme Court tossed out much of the state legislature's 2013 attempts to curb pension payouts to retired public workers.

The plan was meant to save about $5 billion in costs for PERS -- Oregon's Public Employees Retirement System. Most of that savings came from trimming annual cost of living increases for retirees.

But In a unanimous decision the court said lawmakers couldn't do that. Thursday’s decision means government agencies in Oregon will have higher pension costs in years to come.

“You can't go back and say 'Oops, I think we're paying you too much,’” retiree Brooks Koenig said. He’s happy with the decision. Koenig retired in 2003 after 26 years in state and local government.

The court ruled that cost of living increases can be cut for people who haven't yet retired. Legislative leaders said they have no immediate plans to take another run at cutting public pension costs.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.