Colorado PERA: Forcing Retirees to Eat 90 Percent of Pension Reform Costs was “Sensitive” and “Equitable.”

Yes dear reader, in 2010, a juggernaut of 27 Colorado statehouse lobbyists "sensitively" forced the PERA reform bill (SB10-001) through the legislative process.

The propaganda produced by our Colorado state pension administrative agency, Colorado PERA, simply boggles the mind. It is boundless . . . and unconstrained by normal human decency.

Allow me to translate this recent Colorado PERA propaganda piece: Colorado PERA officials recently argued, on their website, that using PERA trust funds (in part, the property of PERA retirees) to pay for public relations, lobbying, and legal campaigns to take the retirees' accrued statutory PERA benefits (benefits that PERA officials have, in legislative testimony, confirmed as PERA contractual obligations) and thus push 90 percent of the cost of the 2010 PERA reform bill onto the backs of these elderly PERA retirees, was "sensitive," and an "equitable distribution of costs."

Elderly PERA retirees eat 90 percent, PERA employers and taxpayers, who actually owe the debt, bear ten percent of the burden. This is the Colorado PERA definition of "equitable"?

In my opinion, Colorado PERA officials are now capable of writing anything, even the most outrageous lies, without compunction. No other Colorado state agency can approach the Colorado PERA talent for propaganda.

A few days ago this statement was posted on Colorado PERA's website:

"The goal of the General Assembly’s reforms enacted in 2010 was for PERA to achieve fully funded status – thus ensuring retirement security – WITH SENSITIVITY TO THE EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF COSTS AND BURDENS ASSOCIATED WITH THE REFORMS." (My emphasis in caps.)

Implicit in this Colorado PERA statement is a belief that accrued Colorado PERA ABI (COLA) benefits ARE NOT a Colorado PERA contractual obligation. Surely, Colorado PERA officials do not believe that the breach of a public pension contract can be "equitable," or "sensitive."

But, if Colorado PERA officials believe that the statutory PERA ABI benefit is not a Colorado PERA contractual obligation, then why did they provide this perfectly contradictory legislative testimony in 2009?

December 16, 2009

Colorado PERA officials in written testimony to the Joint Budget Committee: “The General Assembly cannot decrease the COLA (absent actuarial necessity) because it is part of the contractual obligations that accrue under a pension plan protected under the Colorado Constitution Article II, Section 11 and the United States Constitution Article 1, Section 10 for vested contractual rights.”


January 22, 2010

SB10-001 co-prime sponsor Senator Josh Penry and bill sponsor Senator Greg Brophy: “Fully 90 percent of the PERA fix comes from benefit cuts to current and future retirees.”

January 26, 2010

"The difference between the past approach and SB1, Penry said, is that the new plan boldly tackles benefit reductions, which he said will constitute 90 percent of the PERA fund's recovery and generate plenty of opposition along the way."

October 26, 2011

Colorado PERA Executive Director Greg Smith, at the “Fall 2011 PERA Shareholder’s Meeting,” (thirty-six minutes into the video):"‘Only ten percent of the fix” of the [SB10-001] reforms in 2010 came from additional employer contributions."

April 17, 2011

Senator Brandon Shaffer, co-prime sponsor, SB10-001, Denver Post: “I sponsored last year's legislation, known as Senate Bill 1, to protect PERA. The bill required shared sacrifice, but frankly most of it — 90 percent of the burden — falls on the shoulders of PERA's current and future members and retirees.”

May 29, 2011

Colorado PERA Executive Director Meredith Williams, Pueblo Chieftain:

“In fact, about 90 percent of the changes enacted by Senate Bill 1 are falling on the shoulders of current and future PERA members and retirees — not other taxpayers.”

We see above that Colorado PERA officials have testified that the PERA statutory ABI (COLA) benefit is a Colorado PERA contractual obligation. (For the record, this evidence was conveniently ignored by the Colorado Supreme Court in its 2014 Decision in the case, Justus v. State.) In 2014, Colorado state government CONVENIENTLY forgave Colorado state government debt (violating federal case law, US Trust.)

"The Colorado Supreme Court: Politicians in Black Robes."

It is critical to the proper functioning of a democratic republic that truth be widely disseminated. "Friend" Save Pera Cola on Facebook.

3 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. hawkeye says:

    Now that the retiree lawsuit failed and SB10-1 is no longer in dispute, there will be efforts to ease up on PERA employer contribution rates by using an 80% funding goal over 30 years.

    • Algernon Moncrief says:

      That seems quite probable. I'm not sure that the SB10-001 lawsuit actually "failed." The Colorado Judiciary refused to let the case go to trial, too much state revenue was at risk, so evidence and case law were ignored. The Colorado Supreme Court relinquished its integrity in order to clean up a PERA and legislative mess. PERA has $40 billion of member assets that they can use in legal efforts to break the member's contracts. I believe that this case was not appealed because PERA threatened to push the plaintiffs into bankruptcy if they didn't back off. This is our state government in action.

  2. hawkeye says:

    SB15-133 attempts to politicize the setting of contribution rates by embedding the state personel director into the decision making process. I suspect the sponsors of this bill would like to see an increase in employee, or a decrease employer (or both) contribution rates. 

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