Oregon's Retirement System: The Challenges of Reform

2012 National Leadership Conference

Fiscal Chairs Forum:
State Efforts to Stabilize Public Pension Plans
May 17, 2012

The Fiscals Chairs forum featured an in-depth discussion of, and policy options to, one of the thorniest problems confronting state policymakers: public pensions.  As states cautiously recover from the Great Recession, one of the significant fiscal challenges they confront involves devising solutions to boost underfunded and unfunded public pension plans.  During the forum, the fiscal chairs heard from fellow state officials representing three states (Oregon, Rhode Island and California), each tackling unique public pension challenges in innovative ways.

Presentation by Senator Richard Devlin,
Senate Co-Chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, Oregon

Oregon's Retirement System: The Challenges of Reform

Senator Devlin began his presentation by noting that Oregon’s public retirement system, like so many other retirement plans across the country, faced myriad challenges.  While the system’s funded status stood at 112 percent in 2007, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, it dropped to 80 percent in 2008 before climbing up to 87 percent in 2010.  In 2011, it is estimated to drop to 81 percent.  He added that there were three main categories of retirees in the Oregon plan: Tier One and Tier Two members of the Public Employees Retirement System and Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan members (employees hired on or after August 29, 2003).  Each of these categories received different pension benefits.  As of October 2011, the average monthly benefit for a retiree in the system amounted to $2,373 while the average beneficiary was 59 years at retirement with 22 years of public service in the system.  Senator Devlin stressed that the Legislature continued to carefully monitor the system’s financial status and enact necessary reforms.

Richard Devlin

Richard Devlin began his service in the Oregon Legislature after being elected to the House of Representatives in 1996.  He served three terms in the House before his election to the Oregon Senate in 2002 and was the Senate Majority Leader from 2007-2010.   He is currently serving as the Co-Chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee.  

Senator Devlin earned his Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice from Portland State University and his Master of Arts in Management from Pepperdine University.  His occupational background is in adult and juvenile corrections and criminal investigations, and he served in the U.S. Marine Corps.