SALEM, Ore. — Taxpayers are already shouldering a larger share of government pension costs, and their contribution will go up again next July as the Public Employee Retirement System tries to dig out from a $16 billion unfunded liability.
The deep hole can be blamed on the Deep Recession, which erased 27 percent of the pension fund's value in 2008. But critics say the road to a massive pension liability is also strewn with generous promises, questionable decisions and thwarted attempts to fix them.
Public employee benefits have been a political hot potato in several states since the recession began straining government budgets, but Oregon has largely escaped the acrimony. That could change next year as calls for reforms grow louder.