2006-11-05 10:20 in /politics/oregon
Measure 26-86 provides two reforms to the pension system for police and firefighters in Portland. This system currently has an unfunded liability of $1.6B which is expected to rise substantially if no action is taken.
The first change is to give the decision-making authority on disability claims to an independent expert. Currently that authority is given to the pension Board of Trustee’s which is mostly, if not entirely, made up of representatives of the police and fire departments. This seems like a sensible reform both because the board members may have a conflict of interest in these matters, and because they aren’t necessarily qualified to make these medical judgements.
The second change would put new employees of these departments on a new, fully-funded pension plan, which should eliminate the unfunded liability over the course of time. This isn’t a magic solution; it’ll take 30 to 40 years to fully fix the problem, and for the first 20 years the costs will actually go up somewhat. However, it seems to be the responsible thing to do, and I support this type of long-term thinking.