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Safeguards will protect Oregon’s new school money from diversion, supporters say

SALEM — Educators, students and advocates celebrated as Gov. Kate Brown signed a sweeping new law that could channel about $1 billion per year into Oregon public schools — money critics suggest could end up a casualty of spiraling retirement costs.

Proponents say they built in safeguards to avoid just such a circumstance, and they point to a PERS reform bill that passed the Senate this week as evidence that they're working to control those costs.

The conflicting claims entangle two of the 2019 Legislature's most thorny issues: taxes and pensions.

“Until we get a handle on the PERS problem, we are going to be faced with this in another two years,” Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr., R-Grants Pass, warned. “The PERS issue needs to be addressed, and it needs to be solved, or we will not have enough . . .