The stability of Colorado's Public Employees' Retirement Association is such a crucial issue for our state. As I travel around Colorado, the number one question at every event I attend is simple: What's your plan to fix PERA?
It is the most important issue facing our next State Treasurer, and while it does not lend itself to easy solutions that can be explained in cute snippets and cartoon videos, it absolutely does demand a plan for action from the Treasurer and the State Legislature. Here are three things we must do for the future of our state:
1.) Beginning in 2019, enroll future state workers and government employees in a "defined contribution" system, similar to the 401(k) retirement plans used in the private sector. We must allow individual workers greater control over their retirement savings. And with this step, we help protect taxpayers and we slow the growth of PERA's unfunded liability, which is now over $32 billion. We simply cannot responsibly allow that unfunded liability to grow at its current rate. Gone are the days of the gold watch.
2.) For state workers and government employees in the middle of their careers (like myself), we must allow more flexibility, and more options for managing funds for retirement.
3.) Most importantly, for those who are currently PERA members, we must not alter their current benefits in any way. While we must acknowledge that the $32 billion unfunded liability is a serious concern, the plain truth is that a promise is a promise.
When it comes down to it, we have to make PERA sustainable for Colorado. Stopping short of that goal would be a tremendous disservice to future generations in our great state. No problem is too big, and my history of relentless pursuit of sound, principled approaches to solve complex issues is just the kind of commitment that we need in the State Treasurer’s Office.