Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hooray for the Mainstream Media!

I complained about a "Think Out Loud" show recently, so it behooves me to mention when I think a show is exceptional. And I think today's show on PERS was exceptional. Yes, there were advocates for and against structural changes, but there was the PERS administrator to state the facts and even the opposing sides did a good job explaining the system and their respective takes on the current problems and what, if anything, should be done to address them. If you did not know much about it to begin with, this show was an excellent place to start learning about it. It will be on again tonight and will live on in the internets so I recommend it to anyone interested in PERS.

And I can't help chiming in: though it was mentioned a number of times, PERS benefits are a part of a total compensation package, so it is not at all clear that by reducing benefits you will help the fiscal situation of state agencies out at all. They may just have to increase salary to compensate. I am a tier 3 PERS person, so it is not really any better than what I was offered by other states, by the way, but the salary was significantly worse...

And three cheers for the Oregonian, who have fulfilled their role as the fourth estate in bringing to light potential excesses in the green energy tax credit scheme, immediate changes have resulted from their reporting. Do you really want to live in a state without a major daily where such scrutiny does not happen? I didn't think so.



ericfruits said...

Total average compensation for state and local employees in Oregon is pretty high. For example, Oregon is about the middle for K12 salaries, but near the top for K12 benefits (including PERS). The total package places Oregon somewhere in the top 10 (as best as I can recall).

That said, Tier 3 people like you are much worse off relative to your Tier 1 colleagues. Two people can be doing the same job at the same salary, but the Tier 1 employee is enjoying a vastly richer retirement package than the Tier 3 employee.

Patrick Emerson said...

That's right, tier 1 was generous and is expensive and this legacy cost is something we are essentially stuck with. But recent and future employees like me are in tier 3 which is pretty similar to what i was offered in other states and I don't think it is overly generous.

Robert said...

So the Oregonian publishes an article on Saturday and the rules are changed on Tuesday as a result of their reporting? Wow, those state workers are FAST!