Over the protests of Colorado’s state treasurer, the head of the state’s retirement system received a 3 percent salary increase on Tuesday—his second raise in just over a year—bringing his salary to nearly $406,000 in 2017.
Greg Smith, chief executive of the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, also will receive an incentive payment of 20 percent for leading the $47 billion, 300-employee retirement system, which amounts to nearly $79,000. Smith’s current salary is $394,000.
State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, an ex-officio, voting member of PERA’s board of trustees—and a longtime critic of the system—assailed the raise, pointing out that the pension fund for the state’s more than 547,000 members faces about $30 billion in unfunded liabilities.
“It is unconscionable that Greg Smith will receive a 3 percent raise and 20 percent bonus for doing absolutely nothing to address PERA’s growing unfunded liability,” Stapleton said in a statement issued by his office. “This bonus is not tied to any performance. He is getting an extra 20 percent for simply showing up and maintaining the status quo. This is a prime example of all that is wrong with government.” [Pols emphasis]
We’re not going to even attempt to defend this raise for Greg Smith…but we also don’t have to worry about our own very public history of avoiding the office. This is a strangely-worded line of attack for Stapleton, who has had plenty of problems himself with just “showing up” for work while serving as Treasurer. Stapleton received a mountain of bad press when he was running for re-election two years ago because he apparently rarely bothered to show up at his office in the State Capitol. As we wrote in October 2014, Democratic challenger Betsy Markey hit Stapleton hard in a TV ad over results of an open records request showing that Stapleton’s key card left his wallet about as often as that old buy-5-get-one-free card from the local deli:
Based on data gleaned from an Open Records request of Stapleton’s state-appointed key card (which he needs to enter the State Capitol), there are probably tour guides who spend more time in the building than Stapleton himself. As the script for the ad explains:
At best…it’s inexcusable.
At worst…it’s a scandal. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.
Official key-card records from his Denver office confirm…
Stapleton only bothers showing up at his office around ten days a month.
Often, skipping the office for weeks at a time.
Or only showing up after three P.M.
This is a pretty straightforward ad that is hard for Stapleton’s campaign to fully refute, though Stapleton’s spokesperson, Michael Fortney, tried lamely to defend his boss when questioned by Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels. According to Fortney, Stapleton often forgets his key card, and when he does, he just enters the capitol through the public entrance.
Colorado’s State Treasurer makes an annual salary of $68,500. If this were an hourly position, Stapleton’s take-home pay would be more along the lines of the Federal Poverty Level.