Over the course of his first year in office, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton has targeted the state’s public-employee pension plan, known as PERA, underlining its billions of dollars in liabilities and arguing that it should be reworked to reduce the state’s obligations in part by giving over money to contributors to invest themselves. He brought his case to the state’s House Finance Committee on Thursday and predictably ran up against deep Democratic skepticism.
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Progressive politics coalition Campaign for a Strong Colorado says state Treasurer Walker Stapleton should follow the advice he provided to the U.S. House Ways and Means committee this week when he argued in favor of the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act. “Greater transparency and better information is important for the fiscal health of our states and for our taxpayers,” he said. Strong Colorado agreed and urged Stapleton to bring his point home to the taxpayers he serves by opening up his full current employment records so the Colorado public can see how he’s earning his money and spending his time.
The Joint Budget Committee comes to terms on budget and averts a stand-off. Bill restores some education funding and scales back some PERA contributions.
The surplus of $172.6 million transferred to the education fund in the governor’s 2010-2011 FY budget isn’t expected to do much to save school districts from having to make deep cuts that would see teachers and staff lose jobs.
Republican chair of the House Finance Committee Brian DelGrosso, Loveland, Wednesday moved to advance Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s budget agenda by pushing an amendment that would have nearly doubled the extra amount government employees are paying into their state pension in order to help shore up the state budget.
As part of the Gov. John Hickenlooper’s budget balancing plan, he is calling on government employees to reach into their wallets and put an additional 4.5 percent of their monthly salary into the state pension plan, money that the state normally contributes as part of the contract. Both Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, and Colorado WINS have come out questioning the decision.
Stating that Colorado needs to be more pro-business, Gov. John Hickenlooper cut deep into K-12, further sacrificed state employee earnings, and shut down some state parks and services in the budget proposal he delivered Tuesday.
Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, has introduced legislation that would cause PERA members to continue making the higher payments they began making because of legislation last year. He referred to his bill as “a necessary evil”, but pointed to a bill carried by Republican senators as further compounding the problem.
PERA board members voted unanimously last week to oppose legislation that would radically restructure the board. PERA’s executive director, Meredith Williams, said that contrary to some accusations, PERA is one of the leanest run, most efficient programs in the world and that changing the board would have no effect on legislatively mandated benefits.