Boston College Data: Colorado General Assembly Has Not Been Paying its Pension Bills.…

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College compiles the “Public Plans Database,” which includes the State and Local Defined Benefit Plans dataset.  “The State and Local Defined Benefit Plans dataset provides complete plan level information on participants, governance, finance, and investments for 126 state and local defined benefit pension plans. It also includes a variety of plan level actuarial data not available in the plan’s annual reports.  Data currently span fiscal years 2001 through 2011.”

A quick search for Colorado public pension data in the data set reveals that the Colorado General Assembly has routinely failed to meet its contractual public pension obligations in the last decade, particularly in regard to annual required contributions for the PERA State and School Divisions where typically only 50 to 70 percent of annual obligations have been met.  I believe that it is rather disingenuous for public employers that have ignored their pension obligations to claim a need to breach their pension contracts.

The “annual required contribution” (ARC) in pension jargon is the amount of money that public employer members (State and local governments) of defined benefit public pension plan are required to contribute to the pension plan each year (based on an actuarial formula) in order to sufficiently fund current and future pension benefits and liabilities.  The failure to pay pension ARCs by public pension plans in the U.S. has resulted in the creation of unfunded pension liabilities for these pension plans.

The comments of Colorado House Speaker Frank McNulty in 2009 (at the beginning of the debate that resulted in the SB 10-001 pension COLA contract breach) are illustrative.  He essentially took the prospect of Colorado PERA actually meeting its public pension obligations off of the table:

“July 14, 2009 – However, Rep. Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) said he did not want to ask for higher contributions from governments, which are supported by taxpayers.

‘I don’t think at this point we can expect employer contributions to be part of the solution . . .'”…

This perspective resulted in the attempt to shift 90 percent of the cost of the pension reform bill, SB 10-001, onto the backs of PERA retirees.  Reasonable?

From the Public Plans Database:

2001 Colorado School – 100% ARC Paid

2002 Colorado School – 100% ARC Paid

2003 Colorado School – 69% ARC Paid

2004 Colorado School – 51% ARC Paid

2005 Colorado School – 48% ARC Paid

2006 Colorado School – 62% ARC Paid

2007 Colorado School – 60% ARC Paid

2008 Colorado School – 68% ARC Paid

2009 Colorado School – 65% ARC Paid

2010 Colorado School – 70% ARC Paid

2011 Colorado School –

2001 Colorado State – 100% ARC Paid

2002 Colorado State – 100% ARC Paid

2003 Colorado State – 69% ARC Paid

2004 Colorado State – 51% ARC Paid

2005 Colorado State – 48% ARC Paid

2006 Colorado State – 58% ARC Paid

2007 Colorado State – 56% ARC Paid

2008 Colorado State – 63% ARC Paid

2009 Colorado State – 61% ARC Paid

2010 Colorado State – 62% ARC Paid

2011 Colorado State –

2001 Colorado Municipal – 100% ARC Paid

2002 Colorado Municipal – 100% ARC Paid

2003 Colorado Municipal – 69% ARC Paid

2004 Colorado Municipal – 62% ARC Paid

2005 Colorado Municipal – 64% ARC Paid

2006 Colorado Municipal – 85% ARC Paid

2007 Colorado Municipal – 84% ARC Paid

2008 Colorado Municipal – 98% ARC Paid

2009 Colorado Municipal – 96% ARC Paid

2010 Colorado Municipal – 101% ARC Paid

2011 Colorado Municipal –  

3 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

    this is a commonplace problem. Corporations and governments that can’t live up to the promises that have been made, should not be allowed to just walk away from their guarantees. I heard today that the courts do not consider pension promises to be part of a “contract”..Really??

    I am sure that those who were expecting benefits consider their pensions part of a “contractual agreement”, regardless of poor planning on the part of the pension guarantor.  

  2. to be acknowledged.

    This diary is readable, intelligible, and of a length to be digestible.  Complete thoughts have been separated into paragraphs, and there’s a complete absence of unnecessary capitalization.

    Nice job, Al — not just for the stylistic improvements, but for content.

    Colorado owes it to all its employees — past, present and future — to reverse this pathetic and immoral ARC trend, starting immediately; this session.  We’re Colorado; not Walmart, and not a soulless Bain subsidiary.

  3. dwyer says:

    Credit however where credit is due. Underfunding of PERA has been a constant complaint of his for years.

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