Oregon GOP a no show for education tax vote ahead of walkout

A sign reading “Real PERS Reform Now” lies on the empty desk of a Republican senator after they didn’t show up for Senate floor session at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem last week. Democrats unveiled a plan to rein in Oregon’s rising pension costs in an attempt to coax protesting Republicans back to the state Capitol.

SALEM — Democrats unveiled a plan to rein in Oregon’s rising pension costs in an attempt to coax protesting Republicans back to the state Capitol.

Senate Republicans were again absent on Friday and have now shut down the official business in the chamber for four straight days.

A Democratic supermajority was poised to pass a $1 billion a year increase in school funding but the vote was delayed when Republicans fled the capitol in protest. Conservatives say they’re against any new funding that doesn’t address the state’s $25 billion in pension debt.

Teachers are just some of the public employees covered by the Public Employment Retirement System, or PERS. Democrats are proposing to refinance the debt from 20 to 22 years, which would bring down yearly payments but increase long term costs. They’re also suggesting diverting some employee contributions to pay down the funding liability.

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