Oregon PERS Part 3: A Historical Look into a Troubled Past


In this last blog of a three part series about The Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), we’ll take a historical look into a past filled with hardship, new beginnings, record inflation and controversy.

House Bill 344 creating The Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) was passed March 17, 1945[1]. The bill was motivated by several factors including the ineligibility of social security for state and local government employees, the emergence of pension plans in other states across the US, the “hidden costs of pensions” in the state budget as workers continued to be on the payroll long after they effectively retired and the devastation of the Great Depression that drove the majority of our nation’s elderly to live in poverty. The new legislation, effective July 1, 1946, immediately became known among legislators as one of the best retirement programs in the country despite strong employee resistance to the notion of being “forced” out of their jobs by retirement. 

Since its inception, the program has been heavily debated and reformed many times.

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