Corporate Tax Giveaways Harm State Revenues

According to a recently released report by Good Jobs First, “for Colorado, reducing corporate subsidies can go a long way to salvage the revenue needed to meet its yearly public pension obligations and reduce the burden on both employees and employers.”

The report, Putting State Pension Costs in Context, looked at 12 states where public employee pensions are being debated and found that those states continue to give high tax breaks and other subsidies to corporations. Such subsidies often exceed the amount a state owes to maintain its pension obligations.

In Colorado report, Good Jobs First found corporate giveaways were double the cost of pension obligations:

  • 2018 Colorado Public Employee Pension Obligations $378,203,901
  • 2018 Cost of Colorado Subsidies and Corporate Tax Breaks $757,983,403

The report includes the full list of these corporate giveaways. As the state is balancing its budget and plugging the hole caused by the COVID-19 crisis, its time for lawmakers to seriously look at this list.

2020 Legislative Session is Underway!

With the new year, a new legislative session has started and will continue until May 6, 2020. Secure PERA monitors all PERA related legislation and takes positions on critical bills.

We already have a handful bills introduced (see SB20-057 and  HB20-1127) and expect more on the horizon including potential legislation related to divestment. Sign up for Secure PERA emails, and we will keep you updated on these issues and future legislation.

Secure PERA Announces 2018 Endorsements

Secure PERA is proud to announce our bi-partisan endorsements for the November 2018 election. Below you will also find their websites so you can learn more about the candidates, volunteer for them and donate.

Office District Candidate Name Candidate Website
Governor Jared Polis www.polisforcolorado.com
Treasurer Dave Young www.daveyoungforcolorado.com
State Senate 03 Leroy M. Garcia www.leroygarcia.org
State Senate 05 Kerry Donovan www.donovanforsd5.com
State Senate 11 Pete Lee www.peteleecolorado.com
State Senate 15 Rebecca Cranston www.rebeccacranstonforcolorado.com
State Senate 16 Tammy Story www.story4co.com
State Senate 20 Jessie Danielson www.jessiedanielson.com
State Senate 22 Brittany Pettersen www.brittanypettersen.com
State Senate 24 Faith Winter www.faithwinter.com
State Senate 34 Julie Gonzales www.julieforcolorado.com
State House  10 Edie Hooton www.ediehooton.com
State House  11 Jonathan Singer www.singerforcolorado.com
State House  18 Marc A. Snyder www.electmarcsnyder.com
State House  23 Chris Kennedy www.kennedy4co.com
State House  24 Monica Duran www.monicaduran.com
State House  26 Dylan Roberts www.dylanroberts.org
State House  29 Tracy Kraft-Tharp www.tracyforstaterep.com
State House  31 Yadira Caraveo www.caraveoforcolorado.com
State House  32 Adrienne Benavidez www.facebook.com/Community4Adrienne/
State House  33 Matt Gray www.matthewgray.us
State House  36 Mike Weissman www.mikeweissman.com
State House  40 Janet Buckner www.janetbucknerforcolorado.com
State House  42 Dominique Jackson www.jacksonforcolorado.com
State House  43 Kevin Van Winkle www.vanwinkleforcolorado.com
State House  46 Daneya Esgar www.daneyaesgar.com
State House  47 Bri Buentello www.bri4colorado.com
State House  50 Rochelle Galindo http://www.galindoforcolorado.com/
State House  53 Jeni Arndt www.jeniarndt.com
State House  59 Barbara McLachlan www.barbaraforcolorado.com
State House  62 Don Valdez www.valdezforco.com


SB18 200 – 2018 Overhaul to PERA

Senate Bill 18 200 is a comprehensive overhaul of PERA. Secure PERA is a coalition that operates by consensus. Most of the groups making up Secure PERA have taken individual positions on the bill, but Secure PERA as a coalition does not have a consensus position.

SB18 200 is sponsored by Senators Jack Tate (Centennial – R), Kevin Priola (Adams County – R) & Cheri Jahn (Jefferson County – U) along with Representatives KC Becker (Boulder – D) and Dan Pabon (Denver-D).

The PERA Board met on March 7th and did not take a position on the bill. They asked the PERA staff to continue working with the Legislators on the bill.

You can view PERA’s information on the changes here.

Here is the final version of SB 200.

PERA
Currently (2018)
SB 200
Final Version
Employer Contribution 10% – 13.66% ↑. 25% (no increase for local government employers)
Employee Contribution 8% ↑ 2% Total
— ↑ .75%  on 7/1/2019
— ↑ .75%  on 7/1/2020
— ↑ .5% on 7/1/2021
(all employees)
State Contribution $225 million annually to PERA starting 7/1/2018
Highest Average Salary (HAS) 3 years 5 years
(non-vested as of 12/31/2019 and new employees only)
Retirement Age 58/60 64 years old
(new employees as of 1/1/2020)
COLA Suspension 2 years
(3 years for those not already retired – 1 year from SB1)
COLA Rate 2% 1.50%
(starting 7/1/2020, after 2 years suspension)
PERA Includable Salary Net to Gross
(new employees as of 7/1/2019)
Auto – Adjust Yes (employer, employee, COLA and state contribution involved)
View PERA’s one pager on the auto adjust here.
Defined Contribution State after 2006 has option Expanded to all State Division and Local Division Employees. No Expansion to Judicial, Schools or DPS Employees.

Starting 1/1/2021 the state and local government employers will have to pay a DC Supplement to cover the additional costs of the DC plan.

Other -Pension Review Commission, 5 Senator & 5 Reps — to review PERA & FPPA pensions

-Pension Review Subcommittee consisting of 14 members including legislators and community members

– PERA Board to do an annual sensitivity study to ensure PERA is on track and report to Governor, JBC, Audit and Finance Committees.

-Starting on 1/1/2020 new hires that are state corrections officers classified I thru IV or county sheriff, undersheriff, deputy sheriff, non-certified deputy sheriff, or detention officer hired by  a local government division employer will receive benefits equivalent to state troopers.

 

Lobby Your Legislators RE: PERA 2018

But, the Capitol isn’t easy for everyone to get to so we are also launching our online lobby day.

We haven’t seen the major PERA bill introduced in the Senate yet but we are expecting it any day. When we see it filed we will let you know ASAP via our eblasts. Not signed up? Click here to sign up.

If you know what you want to say to your State Senator and Representative you can click here to send them an email.

If you would like to learn more about PERA and why we are advocating so hard to protect PERA and the defined benefit plan you can watch a video of our most recent presentation at CU Boulder by clicking here or watching below.

Here are the handouts we went through at the lobby day training.

  • PERA benefits by legislative district can be found here.
  • What is the difference between a defined benefit and a defined contribution plan? Find out here.
  • Where is all of this out of state money that is pushing defined benefit type plans coming from? Find out here.
  • Is PERA really that much better than a 401k style plan? See what the report commissioned by the State Legislature said here and if you like infographics better, check this one out.

Now that you have all the information you could need – SEND AN EMAIL TO YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS BY CLICKING HERE

 

HB18 1111 – PERA Board Composition & Access To Member Data

Update: House State Affairs committee postponed House Bill 1111 indefinitely on a party line vote of 5-3.

House Bill 1111 is sponsored by Representative Everett (R- Jefferson County) and Senator Neville (R – Jefferson County).

You can read the bill in its entirety by clicking here.

Overview

House Bill 1111 would change the composition of PERA’s Board of 15 Trustees. It would reduce the number of Trustees elected by members and increase the number of Trustees appointed by the Governor. It would also require certain elected members to be at least 20 years from retirement eligibility.

The bill would also provide any member of the PERA Board access to all records and information controlled by PERA.

Details

The current Board consists of:

  • The state treasurer;
  • Three elected members of the state division;
  • Four elected members of the school division;
  • One elected member of the local government division;
  • One elected member of the judicial division;
  • Two elected retirees;
  • Three trustees appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate who are not PERA members or retirees and who are experts in certain fields;
  • And, one ex officio trustee (non-voting) from the Denver Public School division.

House Bill 1111 would:

  • Eliminate one elected member trustee position from the state division;
  • Eliminate 3 elected member trustee positions from the school division;
  • Require both elected members from the state division and the members from the school division, the local government division, and the judicial division to be at least 20 years from retirement eligibility;
  • Add 4 more trustees appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate who are not PERA members or retirees and who are experts in certain fields to replace the eliminated elected member trustee positions. The additional appointed trustees must have significant experience and competence in investment management, finance, banking, economics, accounting, pension administration, or actuarial analysis; and
  • Authorize any member of the Board to access all records or information controlled by PERA and forbid the executive director or the Board from denying a Trustee’s request for any reason.

Secure PERA opposes this bill and ones like it from the past (in 2017, 2012, and in 2011) and we’ve opposed access to member data in 2017.

  • Current Trustees have the skills, knowledge, and experience to effectively manage the fund. All Trustees are required to attend educational workshops on investments, actuarial practices, benefits administration, and other topics related to serving as a fiduciary. Additionally, the Board employs a professional staff and many consultants who are experts in all areas of the Board’s responsibility.
  • The PERA Board administrative model represents the best practices in governmental pension plan governance. Research by Boston University Asst. Professor of Law David H. Webber shows that when there are elected or “beneficiary” members of boards, the investment returns are better.
  • Board composition was modified in 2006 when three Governor-appointed and Senate approved Trustees were added to the Board.
  • The Board makes recommendations to the General Assembly but it is the General Assembly that ultimately decides what the benefits structure should look like and what the contribution amounts should be – not the PERA Board.
  • The provisions of the bill are discriminatory due to the mandate that certain seats be held by members who are more than 20 years away from retirement. No one older than 45 could be elected for his or her first term for a seat with the 20 years from retirement eligibility criteria since members can retire at age 65 with any amount of service. This bill may also exclude some members older than 30 from being on the Board when first elected since some members can retire at age 50 with 30 years of service.
  • The PERA Board of Trustees under current law it owes the duty of confidentiality to all members.
  • As fiduciaries, the Board of Trustees must act in their best interests of its members. It is highly questionable as to how releasing members’ records the members’ best interests.
  • PERA already provides far more detailed information related to plan sustainability in the annual actuarial valuation which is contained within the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The CAFR and the annual actuarial valuation are formally presented to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee of the General Assembly each year.

PERA Board Endorses Changes

Secure PERA is still analyzing the proposed changes and will be seeking your input on them in the coming weeks. We are very likely to ask the PERA Board for some changes during their November meeting and in our meetings with legislators.

In the meantime, we want to fill you in on the proposed changes. PERA will present this package during their PERAtour 2.0. You can learn more about PERAtour 2.0 at www.PERAtour.org or in our Upcoming Events Calendar on the right-hand side of this page.

The proposed package, which would still have to be approved by the Colorado General Assembly, includes the following.

For Active Employees as of 1/1/2020:

  • A 3% contribution starting January 1, 2020 (currently at 8% and 10% for troopers)
  • Salary definition will change to gross pay (currently net pay)

For New Employees as of 1/1/2020:

  • Additional 2% contribution starting January 1, 2020 (currently 8% and 10% for troopers)
  • Increase retirement age to 65 years of age and 5 years of service or 40 years of service. Troopers increase to 55

Additional Changes For New Employees and Non-Vested Employees (5 years of service) as of 1/1/2020:

  • Highest Average Salary calculation number of years increased to 5 years (currently 3 years) and 3 years for Judicial Division (currently 1 year)
  • Salary definition changed to gross pay (currently net pay)
  • Change definition for service accrual to be a percentage of time actually worked

For Current and Future Retirees:

  • COLA rate reduced to 1.5% (currently 2%)
  • Two year COLA suspension (those not retired yet will have three years suspended, 1 year from SB1)

For Employers:

  • Additional 2% contribution
  • Salary definition will change to gross pay (currently net pay)

You can view a chart of the changes from PERA here.


HB17 1265 – Judicial Division Contributions

HB 1265 is sponsored by Representatives KC Becker (D-Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson) and Dan Nordberg (R-El Paso) along with Senators Andy Kerr (D-Jefferson) & Kevin Priola (R-Adams)

The bill has been assigned to House Finance and will be heard on March 29th upon adjournment in LSB-A.

Secure PERA is still evaluating this bill and expect to take a position on March 20th.

You can read the bill in its entirety by clicking here.

HB 1265 will increase employer contributions (AED & SEAD) to the Judicial Division of PERA. There will be incremental increases until 2023 when the total amount paid will equal the State Division.

In 2004 and 2006, the general assembly enacted legislation that required each employer in the public employees’ retirement association (PERA) to make additional contributions to PERA. The additional employer contributions are the amortization equalization disbursement (AED) and a supplemental amortization equalization disbursement (SAED). Although the SAED is an employer contribution, it is funded by money that would otherwise be available for employee salary increases. The AED and the SAED are to reduce PERA’s unfunded liability and amortization period.

Both the AED and the SAED increase gradually over time for all PERA divisions. In 2010, the general assembly capped the AED and the SAED for the judicial division and the local government division at the 2010 levels, which for the AED is 2.20% of the employer’s total payroll and for the SAED is 1.50% of the employer’s total payroll.

For the calendar year beginning in 2019, for the judicial division only, the bill increases the AED to 3.40% of total payroll and requires the AED payment to increase by 0.4% of total payroll at the start of each of the following 4 calendar years through 2023. In addition, for the calendar year beginning in 2019, for the judicial division only, the bill increases the SAED to 3.40% of total payroll and requires the SAED payment to increase by 0.4% of total payroll at the start of each of the following 4 calendar years through 2023.

 

Walker Stapleton: Liar or Just Confused?

So we did some research. During his tenure as Treasurer, Walker has attended only 53% of the PERA Board Meetings and even when he was present, he often didn’t stay for the whole meeting.

Click on our video below to see the truth!

On February 21st while testifying in front of the Senate Finance Committee in support of Senate Bill 158, Walker Stapleton stated that he personally attends 90% of PERA Board meetings. You can listen to the testimony on Senate Bill 158 in its entirety by clicking here, it is about 45 minutes. Or, click below to listen only to Walker Stapleton’s testimony on his PERA Board Meeting attendance.

Then he doubled down on that assertion later the same day with Kyle Clark.  You saw a clip of that interview in our video. You can see the entire 13 minute interview below.

Walker Stapleton claimed to attend 90% of PERA meetings. That just didn’t seem accurate. See, we at Secure PERA attend nearly every PERA Board meeting and didn’t recall seeing him there very often, so we decided to do some research. Lo and behold, he rarely attends meetings and even when he does, he only stays for part of them.

Here is what we found out:

  • In 2011, PERA had 12 Board Meeting, Walker attended 8 of them – 67%
  • In 2012, PERA had 11 Board Meetings, Walker attended 3 of them – 27%
  • In 2013, PERA had 7 Board Meetings, Walker attended 2 of them – 29%
  • In 2014, PERA had 8 Board Meeting, Walker attended 6 of them – 75%
  • In 2015, PERA had 11 Board Meetings, Walker attended 9 of them – 82% (getting better, but still not 90%)
  • In 2016, PERA had 11 Board Meeting, Walker attended 4 of them – 36%

In total, he attended 32 out of the 60 PERA Board Meetings.

During his tenure as Treasurer, Walker has attended only 53% of the PERA Board Meetings, and even then often didn’t stay for the whole meeting.

Having busted this blatant falsehood, we looked more closely at some of his other statements. He also claims 100% attendance from his office (he or his deputy) over his tenure. This also isn’t true. In 2015, the office was not represented at one meeting; same story in 2016. That doesn’t count the meetings when his deputy swore at the other Board members and left early – click here for more on that.

Walker also claimed he has one of the highest attendance records among Board members. We looked back at 2016 and here are the results. Spoiler alert: Walker Stapleton has the worst attendance record.

2016
Total # of Meetings Attended % Attended
School Division Representatives
Marcus Pennell 11 7 64%
Karl Fisch 11 9 82%
Bill Parker/ Amy Nichols* 11 8 73%
Guillermo Barriga/ Scott Noller ** 11 5 45%
Judicial Division Representative
Will Bain/Brian Campbell* 11 9 82%
Retiree Representatives
Carole Wright 11 9 82%
Tim O’Brien 11 9 82%
Local Division Representatives
Robert Lamb*** 10 7 70%
State Division Representatives
Maryann Motza 11 10 91%
Carolyn Jonas-Morrison 11 10 91%
David Hall/Richard Delk* 11 9 82%
Appointees
Susan Murphy 11 9 82%
Lynn Turner 11 10 91%
Roger Johnson 11 9 82%
Treasurer
Walker Stapleton 11 4 36%
Deputy Treasurer Jon Forbes 11 9 82%
Non-Voting DPS Representative
Amy Grant 11 9 82%

*Some of the seats switched mid-year so we combined the two people who held these seats.
**Scott Noller had to resign his seat due to personal reasons, thus the reduced attendance.
***Bob Lamb was appointed to fill a vacancy and wasn’t appointed until the second meeting of the year, thus his total of 10 meetings, not 11.

You can do your own research, too; here are all of the meeting minutes from PERA:

  • 2014-2016 are available on PERA’s website
  • 2011-2016 – we requested these from PERA and placed them here for you to review

 

HB17 1176 – Working In Rural Schools After PERA Retirement

BILL HISTORY

  • Introduced into the House of Representatives on 2/06/2017.
  • House Committee on Finance passed the bill on 3/15/17. See vote summary here.
  • House Committee on Appropriations passed the bill on 3/31/2017.  See vote summary here.
  • Passed in the House on 3rd Reading on 4/3/2017. Passed 60-3-2.  See how your Representative voted here.
  • Senate Committee on Education passed the bill on 4/19/2017.  See vote summary here.
  • Passed the Senate on 4/25/17.  The vote was 29-6.  See how your Senator voted here.
  • The bill was re-passed in the House, concurring with the amendments made in the Senate, on 4/27/17.  The vote was 59-2, 4 abstentions.  See how your Representative voted here.

BILL INFORMATION

HB 1176 was sponsored by Rep. Jon Becker (R-Fort Morgan) and Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling) and has been assigned to House Finance and then House Appropriations.

Secure PERA has decided to support this bill if it is amended to add a report back to the legislature in the third year.

You can read the bill in its entirety by clicking here.

House Bill 1176 would allow a PERA retiree to work a full year for a rural school district that has determined they have a critical shortage of teachers, bus drivers, or food service employees. The retiree would receive their full retirement benefit and salary for the position and all PERA payments from the retiree and district would be paid. The retiree would not accumulate additional service.

Current law allows a service retiree of any division of the public employees’ retirement association (PERA) to work for a PERA employer for limited periods and to receive a salary without reduction in benefits under certain circumstances. Several rural school districts in the state have recently experienced a shortage of teachers, school bus drivers, and school food services cooks and would ideally address the shortages by hiring service retirees. PERA’s employment after retirement provisions, including the limitation on the number of days in a calendar year that a service retiree may work for a PERA employer without a reduction in benefits, make it difficult for school districts to fill their vacancies with retired teachers, school bus drivers, and school food services cooks.

The bill modifies the current PERA employment after retirement provisions for certain retirees hired by an employer in the school division if:

  • The employer that hires the service retiree is a rural school district as determined by the department of education based on certain criteria and the school district enrolls 6,500 students or fewer in kindergarten through 12th grade;
  • The school district hires the service retiree for the purpose of providing classroom instruction or school bus transportation to students enrolled by the district or for the purpose of being a school food services cook; and
  • The school district determines that there is a critical shortage of qualified teachers, school bus drivers, or school food services cooks, as applicable, and that the service retiree has specific experience, skills, or qualifications that would benefit the district.

A service retiree who is a teacher, a school bus driver, or a school food services cook and who is hired by an employer in the school division that satisfies the criteria above may receive salary without a reduction in benefits for any length of employment in a calendar year if the service retiree has not worked for any PERA employer during the month of the effective date of retirement.

In addition, the bill requires the employer that hires the service retiree to provide full payment of all PERA employer contributions, disbursements, and working retiree contributions.

A service retiree may not receive salary without reduction in benefits and without limitation in a calendar year for more than 6 consecutive years.