Ted Wheeler summited Mount Everest in 2002 a feat that puts pension reform in perspective. In June 2012, when Wheeler was campaigning to be elected as Oregon state treasurer after being appointed to the post two years earlier, he wrote to the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System board, proposing changes to the states $65 billion retirement system, which has a $16 billion pension shortfall. Wheeler, 52, recommended that Oregon cap cost-of-living increases, stop allowing retirees who live out of state to collect reimbursements for taxes they didnt pay and consider reducing the systems 8 percent assumed rate of return. As treasurer and a member of the Oregon Investment Council, which is responsible for investment oversight of the state fund, Wheeler pledged to do everything he could to reduce costs and improve risk management. I will work with my colleagues on the Council to explore cost-saving efficiencies since every additional dollar in investment returns is a dollar less that comes from taxpayers pockets to fund pension costs, the Portland native wrote. Other state officials, most notably Governor John Kitzhaber, have adopted Wheelers reform proposals. Many in the labor movement have praised the treasurer for offering real solutions to the pension deficit without undermining the defined benefit system, and his star is rising within the national Democratic Party.
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