Senate Bill 158 would change the make up of the board that governs our state’s employee retirement fund, more commonly known as PERA, to favor people with knowledge of finance and investment management.

Such a common sense proposal should sail through the legislature, right? Unfortunately, in politics it’s never that simple. And because the bill is being supported by state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who is a rumored gubernatorial candidate, the left is lining up to oppose it. Because, god forbid, your political opponent gets a “win” at the expense of doing something good for the state.

The PERA board oversees a $42 billion fund, yet most of its members don’t know the first thing about finance, investments, accounting – the list goes on. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, gave the following explanation for why this proposal is good policy:

“This bill will make sure that the board has a greater range of experience in investment management, economics, accounting, pension administration, or actuarial analysis, while minimizing the appearance of conflicts of interest in matters dealing with PERA’s solvency and the financial liabilities of the State. As a result, we can look forward to a more intellectually honest discussion of what the future holds.”

But Lynea Hansen, Secure PERA’s executive director, told that they are opposing the bill and called it “simply a power grab by Walker as he launches his run for governor.”

Really? Because Stapleton has been in office for six years now and been advocating for PERA reform the entire time and was doing so even before he got elected. Even when the media isn’t writing about it, Stapleton is out there pushing for PERA reform.

While it’s true that Stapleton may end up running for governor, it’s not really fair to say this bill is somehow his the launching pad for a potential campaign. Stapleton has proven time and again that he actually cares about protecting taxpayer dollars and making sure that our teachers get what they were promised. This bill deserves a fair hearing, and we hope it gets just that.