PERS, taxes stall Ore. special session

Union members wore "PERS No More Cuts" buttons at a special session of the Oregon legislature, Sept. 30, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Union members wore "PERS No More Cuts" buttons at a special session of the Oregon legislature, Sept. 30, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Many state workers feel frustrated with the plan to make cuts to the Public Employee Retirement System to help fund education, seniors and mental health programs. And lawmakers are struggling with too many pieces in the funding puzzle.

In a special legislative session called by Gov. John Kitzhaber, lawmakers may change the way Oregon funds K-12 schools by cutting PERS spending and increasing taxes.

The legislature is trying to find close to $5 billion in PERS savings, raise some corporate taxes, lower others and raise the cigarette tax by 10 cents per pack.

There is also a bill to prevent almost all Oregon counties from banning genetically modified crops, an effort to get some lawmakers on board with the tax hikes.

Lawmakers are struggling to reach an agreement.

If the K-12 schools get $100 million of the money, it will go into the state school fund. It would be up to local school boards to decide where to spend the money — about $4 million a year for Portland for the next two years.

The one-day session will now stretch into Tuesday.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.

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