Educators now support PERA bill after amendments

The House Finance Committee passed an amended Senate Bill 200, April 16, to help reform PERA on a 10-3 vote. The bill now meets the guiding principles adopted by the Colorado Education Association Board of Directors in December to maintain the financial stability of members’ retirement funds through a defined benefit program.

“Over 400 educators came to the Capitol today to call for increased funding for public education and a secure retirement–and we are thrilled that legislators listened,” said CEA President Kerrie Dallman. “We are very glad to see the removal of the defined contribution provision and allocation of $225 million to eliminate the proposed employee contribution increases. We would like to thank Representatives KC Becker and Dan Pabon for their work on the amendments. We are all for reforming PERA, just not on the backs of educators. The goal here is to provide a secure, predictable retirement for all public employees.”

House Finance took the following action today:

· Completely removed the defined contribution provision – both the DC expansion and supplement.

· Allocated $225M as a direct payment to PERA, which will eliminate the proposed employee contribution increases. This money is ongoing to help pay off the unfunded liability.

· Reduced the proposed retirement age from 65 to 60 for School and DPS Division for new employees only.

· Reduced the Highest Average Salary (HAS) calculation from seven years to five years.

· Eliminates Full Time Equivalent (FTE) service year calculation.

· Narrows Net-to-Gross contribution changes to new employees only.

One component that wasn’t amended is the COLA rate remains at 1.25%. While an expedited auto-adjust component theoretically could increase that figure, CEA continues to explore ways to increase this rate to 1.5% and still secure House and Senate passage of an amended SB 200.

“The positive state revenue forecast clearly demonstrates there is substantially more money available this year. Therefore, we can and must do a better job funding our public schools and providing for the retirement of those who taught our children and served their communities for a long career. Providing our students with the schools they deserve must be the top budget priority for lawmakers,” said Dallman.