Oregon Retirees Will See Reduction in Retiree Benefits to Repay Overpayment
To help repay a decade-old overpayment in benefits, more than 20,000 Oregon public retirees will see a 2 percent reduction in their monthly benefit payments at some point in the next year. The state’s Public Employees Retirement System board of directors in March approved a plan to recover $156.3 million in overpayments to some retirees. That action followed a court order allowing the board to proceed with planned collections.
According to the Statesman Journal of Salem, overpayments were made to 28,042 “window retirees.” The term refers to those who retired between April 2000 and April 2004. A majority of those retirees receive month payments from the retirement system, while more than 8,000 are people who have received retirement payments but don’t get monthly benefit checks.
That group includes retirees who took early withdrawals or lump sum pension payments, or the beneficiaries or estates of deceased members. Those not receiving monthly benefits will be required to set up a payment plan with the Department of Revenue to pay back the money.
State officials say it will take the average retiree roughly 6.5 years to pay back the overpayments via monthly deduction.
Retirees will be given the option to repay through a single lump sum instead of through monthly reduction. They also will have the option of taking a benefit reduction larger than 2 percent in order to repay owed money in a shorter amount of time.
The Statesman Journal reported those receiving monthly benefits owe, on average, $6,650 in overpayments, while those who took lump sums owe an average of $8,351.
The retirement system plans to go to the legislature’s emergency board in May to request more than $2 million in funding for the repayment process. The money will pay for administrative fees of the program, including temporary employees to oversee the repayment collections.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell signed a law in March to help in the recovery of crime victims’ property being held in evidence. According to The Associated Press, Senate Bill 30 is designed to speed up the process by which property is returned to crime victims. Currently, property can be held for months or years at the request of prosecutors or defense attorneys. Under the new law, crime victims can petition the court to retrieve their property.
Female Business Owners
The number of Hawaii businesses owned by women increased by 55 percent over the past 15 years, according to a report released in March by American Express. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported women own 39,900 Hawaii businesses doing $5.34 billion in sales annually. Hawaii ranked 18th in the nation in the creation of new female-owned businesses and eighth in job growth.
Wolf Hunting Extension
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission in March approved wolf hunting regulation changes to address the state’s overpopulation of wolves. According toThe Idaho Statesman, the changes include higher bag limits, expanded trapping and extended hunting seasons in some areas. Idaho is one of two states allowed to regulate the number of wolves using public hunts. The number of wolves in Idaho is now down to 500 to 600 wolves, from more than 1,000 in 2011, according to estimates from Idaho’s wolf managers.
Colorado schools will no longer take official enrollment counts on religious holidays. In March, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a bill to ensure more accurate enrollment counts, The Denver Post reported. The state’s official pupil enrollment count date is Oct. 1, which sometimes falls during Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. Under the new law, the count will take place on the first day of school immediately following the end of the holiday if Oct. 1 falls on a weekend.
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a cleanup of Montana’s air pollution that would require three industrial plants to spend $90 million on improvements, according to The Associated Press. The plan would rid the air around Yellowstone and Theodore Roosevelt national parks of 15,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides annually. The proposed renovations would need to happen within the next five years at Colstrip coal power plant, Ash Grove cement plant and Holcim cement plant.