A group called Fix PERS Now today released information comparing the relative contributions public employers make to the public employee pension systems in Oregon and Washington.

The group, a coalition of the Oregon School Boards Association, the Oregon Business Association, Stand For Children and Associated Oregon Industries, wants lawmakers to reduce pension benefits in order to put more money into education and other public services. Fix PERS has hired the consulting firm ECONorthwest to crunch numbers. One finding is Oregon is spending a far greater percentage of its money on pension contributions than other states.

“The disparity is explained by the fact that Oregon’s pension debt is as large as Washington’s, but Oregon’s economy is only half the size of Washington’s,” said John Tapogna of ECONorthwest in a statement. “Oregon built a pension system that is disproportionately large for a state its size. As a result, Washington is in a much better position to use its tax dollars to fund current classroom expenditures as opposed to legacy pension costs.”

The information the group released today shows that if Oregon and Washington contributed the same percentage of budgets to pension systems, Oregon could afford to hire more than 3,000 additional teachers.

Fix PERS Now has also produced a concise video explanation of what can sometime seem like a very complicated issue.

learn more at http://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-30127-oregon_pers_far_more_costly_than_washington_pensio.html