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Pension Funds

Oregon task force identifies measures to reduce unfunded pension liabilities by about $5 billion

An Oregon state task force is recommending a number of measures including harvesting some of the state's timberland, selling state-owned real estate and privatizing state universities that could result in a combined $4.2 billion to $6.4 billion to reduce the $74.9 billion Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund's unfunded actuarial liability, according to task force's report.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown charged the task force with leaving "no idea unexamined and no rock unturned" to identify ways the state could pay up to a quarter, roughly $5 billion, of the pension fund's unfunded actuarial liability, according to a news release issued with the report on Nov. 1.

Other ideas floated by the task force included creating a new investment fund for the excess cash held on the balance sheets of cities, counties and school districts. The new investment fund would be separate from current investment funds and would have a longer maturity but higher return than short-term investments these entities often use to invest excess cash, the report noted.

Another idea is to transfer surplus capital held by Oregon's hybrid workers' compensation system above what it needs to pay estimated claims to workers to the pension plan.

Members of the task force include Donald W. Blair, former executive vice president and chief financial officer at Nike; Monica Enand, CEO and of Portland-based technology company Zapproved; Lawrence J. Furnstahl, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Oregon Health & Science University; Bob Livingston, battalion chief of the Salem (Ore.) Fire Department; Rick Miller, founder and chairman of the board of senior care provider the Avamere Group; Cory Streisinger, a board member of Oregon Saves, a retirement savings program for employees in the state whose employers do not offer a program; and Charles Wilhoite, a managing director at financial analysis consulting firm Willamette Management Associates.