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Legislative session ends; PERS special session possible

The 2013 legislative session ended Monday afternoon with significantly increased funding for schools, but without an agreement on comprehensive reform of the Public Employees Retirement System.

According to news reports, Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said Gov. Kitzhaber may call the Legislature back for a special session on PERS before February.

PERS reform was a top issue for OSBA this session, along with passage of a school funding bill of $6.55 billion – an increase of about $800 million over 2011-13. Although one PERS bill passed, creating about $460 million in savings this biennium, OSBA joined with other partners in pressing for additional PERS relief.

Those negotiations came close to an agreement, but broke down over details in a revenue package that was tied to a PERS reform proposal.

“This issue is of vital importance for students, parents and school board members,” said Betsy Miller-Jones, OSBA’s executive director. “We are going to continue to work with both parties and the governor’s office to find a long-term PERS solution.”