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The decision by the Public Employees Retirement System board to distribute "excess" PERS earnings during the stock market boom of the 1980s and 1990s was an irresponsible transfer of wealth to Baby Boomers from younger generations. Those decisions will hamstring Oregon for decades while younger generations pay PERS obligations. This is particularly frustrating given that younger generations got no say in the decisions to distribute those "excess" returns.

That said, it's also frustrating to see many Oregonians ignore the law and question the integrity of Oregon's Supreme Court and public employees. James Madison and our other founding fathers were not PERS members when they wrote the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1), which says, "No State shall... pass any ... Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts…" Trying to ignore the Constitution and question the integrity of Oregon's judges and public employees does nothing to resolve our PERS problem, and only sows acrimony. This is true for Republicans and unaffiliated voters, like myself, who don't like taxes. It's also true for the Democratic legislators and governor, who supported Senate Bill 1049, which delays PERS obligation payments and unilaterally alters PERS members' employment contracts.

As a taxpaying, Gen X Oregonian who does not belong to PERS, I believe now is time for Oregon to pay its PERS obligations so future generations don't have to. Want to raise taxes or cut costs that inordinately affect those who inordinately benefited from PERS? Fine, but do so legally without poisoning our culture with unnecessary acrimony.

Jeff Barden

Corvallis (Aug. 20)

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