True grift: Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown rewards another politician with a cushy pension-enhancing appointment

Gov. Kate Brown Brown has found a nice new lucrative home for State Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland).

State Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland)

Last week Brown nominated Burdick, who has no particular power and conservation expertise, for a seat on the Pacific Northwest Electric Power and Conservation Planning Council. The Council is a federally funded panel that provides policy and planning leadership on regional power, fish and wildlife issues.

If Burdick, 73, is approved by the Senate Rules Committee for a three-year term on the Council, beginning Nov. 1, 2021, not only will she make $120,000 a year, but she’ll likely end up with a much fatter PERS pension payout than her 25 years of legislative service alone would have provided.

That’s because lifetime retirement benefits under PERS are designed to provide approximately 45 percent of a state employee’s final average salary at retirement. Final average salary is generally the average of the highest three consecutive years or 1/3 of total salary in the last 36 months of employment.

As a legislator, Burdick has an annual salary of just $31,200 plus $149 each day of the legislative session to pay for meals and lodging.  After three years on the Council, Burdick’s pension will be calculated using her new substantially higher salary, potentially rewarding her with hundreds of thousands of extra dollars over here lifetime. This when PERS is already overwhelmed with billions in unfunded liabilities.

To say it’s all a scam is being too charitable.

Brown played the same game in 2017 when she put then Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) and Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) on the Council.

In March, Gov. Brown nominated Pendleton resident Chuck Sams, interim Executive Director of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, to replace Fererioli on the Council.  If approved, Burdick will replace Devlin.

Welcome to the trough, Sen. Burdick.