Educators encourage Senate to accept House version of PERA bill

The State House of Representatives passed SB-200 on third reading, May 1, with bipartisan support. CEA supports the bill that passed out of the House.

“CEA wants to thank all House Representatives who stood with educators, especially SB 200 sponsors Majority Leader KC Becker and Rep. Dan Pabon, and all House Democrats and Republican Reps. Dan Thurlow, Hugh McKean and Bob Rankin,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, president-elect of the Colorado Education Association. “More than 10,000 educators rallied at the Capitol last week in part to call for a stronger retirement system for public employees. The House listened. Now, will the Colorado State Senate?”

The bill goes back to the Senate where they can decide to agree to the House version, stick to the original Senate version or send the bill to a conference committee. We strongly encourage the Senate to listen to educator voices and accept the version of SB-200 that passed the House. The bill meets most of the guiding principles adopted by the Colorado Education Association Board of Directors to maintain the financial stability of members’ retirement funds through a defined-benefit program.

Key elements of the House version of SB-200:

  • Strips the defined-contribution provision that would harm PERA by introducing a risky 401(k) style option and does nothing to stabilize PERA.
  • Allocates $225M as an ongoing direct payment to PERA which will cover proposed contribution increases. This money is ongoing to help pay off PERA’s unfunded liability.
  • Sets the retirement age at 60 for new hires in the School and DPS Division, reduced from the original proposal of age 65.
  • Sets the Highest Average Salary (HAS) calculation from three years to five years.

PERA is one of many factors that encourage people to work in public education in Colorado. Without a secure and stable retirement system, attracting quality and experienced educators in our state will be even more difficult. The educator shortage will worsen, hurting more Colorado students. The House has passed a version of SB18-200 that will actually fix PERA. We call on the Senate to concur.