The Denver Post: Hickenlooper right to shield taxpayers from cost of PERA
Author: Erin Prater - November 8, 2017 - Updated: November 8, 2017
Gov. John Hickenlooper is facing criticism for asking government retirees and employees to contribute more than taxpayers to help pay off the massive unfunded liability hanging over the state’s pension system. His critics should stand down. Hickenlooper’s plan to pay down the more than $32 billion liability in the next 30 years is a responsible stance that gets out ahead of an ugly political battle sure to erupt when lawmakers return to the Capitol in January.
There’s no denying that Colorado’s Public Employees’ Retirement Association needs to make changes now to ensure the retirement fund remains strong. PERA will need millions of new dollars every year to shore up the pension, which today is just 58.1 percent funded and is headed in the wrong direction even if the stock market performs as well as expected.
The PERA board recommended that all parties — retirees, current employees and taxpayers — share a portion of the cost of righting the ship. But we, and others, are calling for taxpayer-funded state agencies to be shielded from helping to pay for another round of PERA reforms. The agencies and the taxpayers who fund them are already doing more than their part. Most agencies, for example, are contributing a backbreaking 20.15 percent toward employee benefits.