By Paul McKendry

Do you have a point you’d like to make or an issue you feel strongly about? Submit a letter to the editor or a guest column.

The Bulletin has been “spot on” in its assessment of the ongoing PERS debacle and more recently in its editorial titled “Bend’s climate action plan will accomplish little.” (Sept. 10, 2017)

Lets start with the so-called “action plan.” It’s fair to say it will accomplish something, but it won’t have any effect on the climate. From the stated goals, livability in Bend will be the loser. If you live on a dirt road now, get used to it. The climate commissioner will expect you to walk to work anyway.

The cost of the new climate commisioner will be a lot more than the stated base salary of $115,000. The “real” costs associated with another self perpetuating mini-bureaucracy will push the tab much higher for a position Bend doesn’t need and can’t afford.

The fact is, the only climate problem we have in Bend is caused by the environmental left. And we’ll be hiring another one to fix it. Next to California, Oregon is the poster child of environmental mismanagement. Millions lost on green energy loans, subsidies and boondoggles. The continued push for ethanol diluted fuels that do more harm than good. Forests that were once properly managed, supported schools, produced jobs and prosperity now sit idle and burn. Mill towns are now poverty zones waiting for their federal check each year. That’s what the environmental left has wrought. And the cost to Oregon is staggering. The Democrats’ solution? Another tax. A $1.4 billion “carbon tax” that will further stifle the economy and increase the size of government with no measurable environmental benefit.

So that leaves us with PERS. Kate Brown huddled down with what we assume were the “best and brightest” to discuss a new “kick the can down the road” approach to PERS funding. Their ideas sounded more like a child’s solution. Sell your bike, raid your sisters piggy bank and hit the neighbor kid up for $5. Then come up with an absurd new tax plan like Oregon Measure 97 to drive another wedge between the private and public sectors.

If Kate Brown’s brain trust was serious, they’d admit the system isn’t just bankrupt, it’s unsustainable. It’s also causing hardship throughout Oregon by asking for more and more money from municipalities and tax payers. PERS as it now exists needs to be phased out over time and made supplemental to retirement options the rest of us have. If the SEIU is actually a public “employee” focused union and not just the political action wing of the Democrat party, it’s time they, their members and the legislature propose real changes to the current tax payer funded “bailout system.”

Proposals that actually make PERS self sufficient and fair to the tax payer, not just the recipient. It’s time state employees take control of and be responsible for their own investment and retirement portfolios. The current system promotes self preservation and divisiveness over sound fiscal policy. Government workers deserve a solid market-based wage. That’s a given. But it’s time for a level playing field when it comes to retirement.

In reality, the current governing class in Oregon has become a burden to the very people they were elected to serve. They have no solutions to a problem they helped create. Just tax scams and sell-offs that hurt Oregon. Then they use progressive “cons” like the $15 minimum wage to get re-elected. The real results as Seattle just found out are lost jobs, more government dependence, inflation and for those still working, lost wages because of cut backs.

With estimated PERS shortfalls that by some estimates exceed $50 billion, trying to bail out something this massive in the ways that have been suggested are both dishonest and morally bankrupt. It’s time for a real solution that’s fair and fiscally responsible. Not the self-perpetuating schemes suggested by Kate Brown and the Democrats that only support the status quo.

Vote for Knute Buehler.

— Paul McKendry lives in Bend.