The head of Colorado’s public employee pension, Greg Smith, probably has one of the best jobs in Colorado. He could get paid as much as $647,754 in compensation next year, even though the pension’s unfunded liability rose on his watch to $24.6 billion last year.

Only in the world of public employment, folks. co-pera-logo

Oh, and here’s another kick in the gut: the exact details of this package weren’t even made public until after the board of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) voted on it. Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton cast the only ‘no’ vote in the 12-1 decision and has spent all week urging the board to make the negotiating terms of Smith’s contract public.

Here is what Stapleton had to say:

The most disturbing part of this, other than that the package being kept away from the public, is there are no metrics of achievement and accountability related to the financial health of PERA to justify this 30 percent raise.

PERA is still at least $25 billion in debt. It was grossly underfunded when Smith took over and it remains underfunded today. PERA’s board however, decided to reward this underwhelming performance with a 36-month contract culminating in a $200,000 throw-in bonus, Smith gets just for showing up. This is less than tone deaf, it’s irresponsible.

This should be a lesson to all public officials (elected and appointed) – anytime you stand in the way of transparency, you’re losing. It’s never worth it.

The PERA board’s knee jerk reaction to keep the details of Smith’s new contract a secret until it was finalized, should have been the first sign they were over paying him for underperforming. Colorado taxpayers are going to be pissed, and the folks at PERA who voted for this are stuck with egg on their face.