Gene Derlfer… we are counting on you

Legislators, governor need to step up and do their jobs

There comes a time when legislators  need to stand up and do the right thing for our state. Oregonians elect their leaders to make tough decisions even when doing so is not popular.  It’s called governing.

In the 2013 Legislature, a tough decision must be made: Legislators must show the will to bring the Public Employees Retirement System back in line with the promises made when the system was revised in 1981.

Then, the Legislature set a goal that public retirees would make 50 to 60 percent of what they earned on their last paycheck after 30 years of service. Take a look at the statistics  from 2011: Average  retirees after 30  years were making  74 percent of their  last paycheck, and  some were retiring  at 140 percent or  more of what they  had earned.  Some people want  to make this issue partisan. It’s not. We all share a common goal to provide all the government services we need at a price we can afford. We need to provide adequate resources  to educate our kids. We must help those who cannot help themselves. And we must keep our neighborhoods safe.

Some people want to vilify public employees and paint them in a negative light. Let’s not. Our public employees provide many of the services that are necessary for the unique quality of life we have here in Oregon. School teachers.  Doctors. Nurses. Road crews. Field staff. Researchers.  They are our neighbors, friends, family — all of whom care about our communities, this state and our future as much as we do.

Governing is not easy.

I’m asking that all 90 legislators  come together to make the tough choices on PERS reform and not just kick it to the 201517 biennium for another set of 90 to grapple with. School districts,  local governments and businesses are counting on this Legislature to get the job done now.
Oregon’s future depends on it.

For those legislators who are concerned about re-elecly tion, remember, good policy makes good politics … every day of the week. Your constituents  will respect you because you made the tough choice because it was the right thing to do. The citizens of this state need you to stop worrying about the 2014 election and do what needs to be done.

I predict that the votes this week in the House on PERS and on tax increases will go down in history. Will it be a story about how the Legislature  put the state Public Employees  Retirement System back on solid ground? Or will it be a story of how the Legislature,  playing 2014 election politics, kicked the decision down the road for someone else to resolve?

There is a great opportunity for this Legislature, particular­ its leaders, to step up and do the right thing and adopt a PERS reform package that takes care of the problem once and for all. There is a chance for our governor to be even more visible on this subject, and to lead legislators to a compromise that serves all of us.

I am asking they do what we elected them to do:  Govern.

Gene Derfler served as a Republican in the Oregon State House from 1989 to 1995 and in the State Senate during 1995-2002, serving as Senate president in the 2001 session. He owned NICO Furniture in Salem for many years. Derfler is retired and lives in West Salem with his wife, Thelma. They have been married 69 years.

from the Statesman Journal, April 21, 2013