A report released last Thursday by ratings agency Moody’s showed what the quant jocks at the Peak have been saying for some time – Colorado’s Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) is overburdened with unfunded liabilities. From the Grand Junction Sentinel:
“PERA’s state and local government pension liabilities have continued to grow despite sweeping reforms that included increasing contributions into the plan from active government workers and reducing an automatic cost-of-living increase for retirees.
The report says the pension’s long term liability has grown to $17.3 billion, making it the 16th highest in the nation.”
According to Moody’s, the reforms passed a few years ago that required workers to pitch in for their own retirement helped; however, in 2018, employer increases end. One of the only and loudest whistleblowers on the PERA shortfall has been Republican State Treasurer Walker Stapleton who told the Sentinel:
“People are starting to wake up to this and I think what you’re going to end up seeing is a bipartisan coalition of people from the business community and nonprofit community that are determined to fix our public pension system. The pension system needs deeper structural reforms.”
It’s not just Stapleton and Moody’s that are calling for change. A report by the National Association of State Retirement Administrators showed that Colorado has failed to meet pension commitments for more than a decade. From 2001 through 2013, Colorado has made just 74.5 percent of its required contribution to the plan, which makes Colorado’s funding 46th in the nation for average pension funding.
Of course, the takeaway that AARP is pushing is that the state is not doing enough to fund PERA. Let’s be clear – no other industry is as generous with employees’ retirements as the government. In fact, few industries or companies even have retirement plans as employees are now expected to fund their own retirements. Maybe those paid with the taxpayer dollar should, too.