SB17 158 – PERA Board Composition

BILL HISTORY

  • Introduced in the Senate on 2/03/2017.
  • Senate Committee on Finance passed the bill on 2/21/2017.  See vote summary here.
  • Passed the Senate on 3/2/2017 on a vote of 18-17.  See how your Senator voted here.
  • Postponed indefinitely (PIed) on 3/15/2017 in the House Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs. The vote was 6-3. Here is the vote summary.

BILL INFORMATION

Senate Bill 158 is sponsored by Senator Tate (R- Arapahoe County) and Representative Nordberg (R – Colorado Springs)

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

Senate Bill 158 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.

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.

Senate Bill 158 would:

  • Eliminate one elected member trustee position from the state division;
  • Eliminate 2 elected member trustee positions from the school division;
  • Require at least one elected member from both the state division and the school division to be at least 20 years from retirement eligibility; and
  • Add 3 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.

Secure PERA opposes this bill.

  • 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 two 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.

SB17 113 – Cap Employer Contributions to PERA at 2018 Rates

 BILL HISTORY

  • Introduced in the Senate on 1/27/2017
  • Senate Committee on Finance passed the bill on 2/02/2017. See vote summary here.
  • Passed by the Senate on 2/13/17.  Vote is 18-16-1.  See how your senator voted here.
  • Postponed indefinitely (PIed) in the House committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs on 3/01/17.  The vote was 6-3.  See vote summary here.

BILL INFORMATION

Senate Bill 113 is sponsored by Senator Neville (R- Littleton) and Representative Everett (R- Littleton).

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

This bill would cap employer contribution rates at 2018 levels. This bill concerns us for several reasons:

  • PERA’s Board has voted to conduct an outreach tour this spring and summer to educate us all on the status of PERA and what that status would look like if any changes were made to contribution amounts or benefit structure. With this process going on, it is very important that we leave all options on the table and not mislead employers about what their contribution rates will be well into the future. In essence, the three Senate Finance committee members said that any changes would have to come from employees and retirees – that is unacceptable to us.
  • In the past, employers have not paid 100% of their required annual contribution. This under-funding of the divisions is part of what led to the need for Senate Bill 1 in 2010. In SB10 1, we strived to bring employers up to 100% funding. We will spend the next few months reviewing with PERA how all of the pieces of Senate Bill 1 worked – there were 33 changes in SB10 1 along with numerous assumptions. This comprehensive review by PERA, Secure PERA and the numerous other stakeholders and interested parties needs to occur before we talk about locking in any contribution rates.
  • Lastly, the judicial division went into the yellow category this past year, causing us and PERA some concern. Many of the solutions the judicial division and PERA are talking about to reduce the number of years before the judicial division is 100% funded require additional employer contributions. This bill would prevent that fix.

 

HB17 1114 – State Treasurer’s Authority To Access PERA Public Employees’ Retirement Association Information

BILL HISTORY

  • Introduced in the House of Representatives on 1/20/2017.
  • Postponed indefinitely (PIed) in the House Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs on 3/01/17.  The vote was 6-3. See vote summary here.

BILL INFORMATION

HB 17-1114 is sponsored by Representative Justin Everett (R-Jefferson County ) and Senator Jack Tate (R- Arapahoe County). The bill has been assigned to the State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee in the House. The hearing has been scheduled for February 15, 2017 at 1:30 pm.

Secure PERA Position: Opposed

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

Currently, law provides that all  information contained in records of members, former members, inactive members,  and benefit recipients, as well as records of participants in PERA defined  contribution plans, be kept confidential by PERA. HB 1114 bill would create an exception to current law and require PERA publicly disclose ALL information to the Treasurer – currently Walker Stapleton.

Information could include all of the following: the member’s name, each  position held during employment with a PERA employer, the annual salary  paid for each position, the employer and employee contributions paid on  that salary, age of retirement, Highest Average Salary, and amount of any  benefits paid. He could even access your social security number and address.

CCRS opposes this bill, as releasing this information would not serve any purpose to help secure PERA.

  • 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 to the Treasurer severs 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.

 

Secure PERA 2016 Bi-Partisan Legislative Endorsements

Secure PERA is proud to announce our endorsements in the November 2016 legislative races. We encourage you to reach out to any endorsed candidates, especially the ones who represent you, and ask them how you can help their campaign. Many need people to help knock on doors, stuff envelopes or give financially.

The Process:

We sent all candidates on the ballot a questionnaire. The Secure PERA Steering Committee then reviewed their answers looking for candidates that would support the PERA system for retirees, current employees and future employees.  We also took into account the voting record of those who already sit in the legislature.

The Results:

We endorsed 15 Senate candidates and 39 House candidates. This year we did have one dual endorsement. The Steering Committee chose to endorse both Senator Larry Crowder & Sheriff Jim Casias for Senate District 35. We believe both of these gentlemen will be great on PERA issues.

Below are our endorsed candidates along with the counties they represent and their websites so you can easily connect with their campaign. If you are unsure of your legislative districts, you can look them up by clicking here.

SENATE ENDORSEMENTS

Senate District Name Counties In The District Website
4 Christina Riegel Douglas http://jtkadolph.wix.com/christinariegel
8 Emily Tracy Garfield, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Grand, Jackson & Summit http://www.emilytracy.com/
14 John Kefalas Larimer http://www.johnkefalas.org/
18 Stephen Fenberg Boulder http://www.stevefenberg.org/
19 Rachel Zenzinger Jefferson http://www.rachelforcolorado.com/
21 Domenick Moreno Adams http://www.dominickmoreno.com
25 Jenise May Adams http://jenisemay.com
26 Daniel Kagan Arapahoe http://www.dankagan.com/
27 Tom Sullivan Arapahoe http://www.sullivanforcolorado.com/
28 Nancy Todd Arapahoe http://senatornancytodd.org/
29 Rhonda Fields Arapahoe http://rhondafields.com/
31 Lois Court Arapahoe; Denver http://www.loiscourt.com/
33 Angela Williams Denver http://www.angela4colo.com/
35 Jim Casias Alamosa; Baca; Bent; Conejos; Costilla; Crowley; Custer; Huerfano; Kiowa; Las Animas; Mineral; Otero; Prowers; Pueblo; Rio Grande; Saguache http://www.casiasforsouthernco.com/
35 Larry Crowder Alamosa; Baca; Bent; Conejos; Costilla; Crowley; Custer; Huerfano; Kiowa; Las Animas; Mineral; Otero; Prowers; Pueblo; Rio Grande; Saguache http://www.senatorlarrycrowder.com/


HOUSE ENDORSEMENTS

House District  Name Counties In The District Website
1 Susan Lontine Denver; Jefferson http://susanlontineforhd1.com/
3 Jeff Bridges Arapahoe http://www.bridgesforcolorado.com/
5 Crisanta Duran Denver http://www.duranforcolorado.com/
6 Chris Hansen Denver http://hansenforcolorado.com/
8 Leslie Herod Denver http://www.leslieherodforcolorado.com/
9 Paul Rosenthal Arapahoe; Denver http://www.peopleforpaul.com/
11 Jonathan Singer Boulder http://www.singerforcolorado.com/
13 KC Becker Boulder; Clear Creek; Gilpin; Grand; Jackson http://kcbecker.org/
17

18

Tony Exum

Pete Lee

El Paso

El Paso

http://tonyexum.com/

http://peteleecolorado.com/

20 Julia Endicott El Paso http://www.juliaendicottforcolorado.com/
23 Christopher Louis Kennedy Jefferson http://www.kennedy4co.com/
24 Jessie Danielson Jefferson http://www.jessiedanielson.com/
25 Tammy Story Jefferson http://story4co.com
26 Diane Mitsch Bush Eagle; Routt http://dianeforcolorado.com/
27 Wade Michael Norris Jefferson http://wademnorris.com/
28 Brittany Pettersen Jefferson http://www.brittanypettersen.com/
29 Tracy Kraft-Tharp Jefferson http://tracyforstaterep.com/
30 Dafna Jenet Adams http://dafnaforcolorado.com/
31 Joe Salazar Adams http://www.salazarforhd31.com/
32 Adrienne Benavidez Adams https://www.facebook.com/Community4Adrienne/
33 Matthew Gray Boulder; Broomfield http://www.matthewgray.us
34 Steve Lebsock Adams http://stevelebsock.com/
35 Faith Winter Adams http://www.faithwinter.com/
36 Mike Weissman Arapahoe http://mikeweissman.com/
38 Robert Bowen Arapahoe http://bowen4colorado.com/
40 Janet Buckner Arapahoe http://janetbuckner.com/
42 Dominique Jackson Arapahoe http://jacksonforcolorado.com/
43 Scott Wagner Douglas https://www.wagner4colorado.com
45 Shantell Schweikart Douglas http://shantellforstatehouse.com
46 Daneya Esgar Pueblo http://daneyaesgar.com/
50 Dave Young Weld http://repdaveyoung.com/
51 Jody Shadduck-McNally Larimer http://jodyforcolorado51.com/
52 Joann Ginal Larimer http://joannginal.com/
53 Jeni Arndt Larimer http://jeniarndt.com/
59 Barbara McLachlan Archuleta; Gunnison; Hinsdale; La Plata; Ouray; San Juan http://www.barbaramclachlan.com/
61 Millie Hamner Delta; Gunnison; Lake; Pitkin; Summit http://milliehamner.com/
62 Donald Valdez Alamosa; Conejos; Costilla; Huerfano; Mineral; Pueblo; Rio Grande; Saguache http://valdezforco.com
63 Thomas Hudson Weld https://www.facebook.com/berniecratsradio/posts/153951231668707
65 Jon Becker Cheyenne; Kit Carson; Logan; Morgan; Phillips; Sedgwick; Yuma http://beckerforcolorado.com/

 

NIRS on Costly Pension Mistakes in Alaska, Michigan and West Viginia

She said NIRS research indicates that the best way for a state to address pension underfunding is to implement a responsible funding policy with full annual required contributions. The research reveals that West Virginia, Alaska and Michigan shifted from DB pension plans to DC individual accounts only to experience higher costs. Moreover, current financial data indicate that the DB to DC switch in fact worsened pension funding issues.

Oakley also noted that public pensions help states with workforce management in terms of attracting, retaining and transitioning employees to retirement. She highlighted that a retirement plan is an “extremely” or “very important” job feature to nearly nine out of 10 public employees, and salary is less important. NIRS research finds that salary is an “extremely” or “very important” job feature to less than six out of 10 public employees. Importantly, this preference is in contrast to private sector workers. Salary is far more important than retirement benefits for private sector workers. Accordingly, changes to public sector retirement benefits could result in demands for higher salary so that public employees can achieve a secure future.

Download the testimony here.

 

HB15 1388 – The SCORE Act

UPDATE: The SCORE Act failed in the Senate Finance Committee on a 3-2 vote.

In 2010, Colorado led the nation in creating a bi-partisan solution to stabilize the funding of our public employee pension plan. In 2015, we are proposing, along with the Governor and PERA, an innovative plan to securitize PERA contributions and lock in the changes made under Senate Bill 1 in 2010.

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

Over the last year we, as Secure PERA, have been meeting with PERA, the Governor’s office, legislators and the Treasurer’s office to discuss issuing bonds that would allow us to take advantage of the current low interest rates (somewhere in the neighborhood of 4%) as well as PERA’s great record of investment returns (currently expected to be 7.5% over 30 years).

Many other states have issued pension obligation bonds or POBs unsuccessfully so we wanted to take a very cautious approach. We believe our SCORE Act puts together a deal that will work. As always, when you are dealing with the market there is some risk. But, we believe getting the income from the bonds upfront and then allowing PERA to wisely invest it along with the security of the AED/ SAED and base contribution rates being locked in provides us with greater security.

We learned from other states that POBs can’t be a solution to fixing broken pension systems but, if you make sure your system is secure first – like we did with Senate Bill 1 – and then you make sure all of the money from the bonds comes into your pension system and you top that off by making sure no one can take a payment holiday or reduce payments into the pension system you end up with what we believe will be a good bill for Colorado and for PERA employees!

The SCORE Act

Bonds are a very common financial instrument for all levels of government in Colorado and across the country. They are used for a variety of purposes and there are many types of bond financing structures that are intended to serve different financial goals.

In Colorado, Representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Treasurer’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, the Colorado Coalition for Retirement Security, and PERA have spent almost a year in a collaborative effort studying potential bond proposals that could be used to take advantage of the spread between the low interest rates required to pay for the bonds and the potential for higher long-term returns received from investing the proceeds. Under a draft proposal, current employer and employee contributions into PERA would be used to pay for the bonds issued at a lower fixed interest rate. All income and the contributions above the amount needed to repay the bonds would flow to the PERA Trust Funds to be applied to continue shrinking the unfunded portion of the pension liabilities at no new cost to taxpayers, the state, employers, employees or retirees.

Goals of Proposed Bonds:

  • Strengthen SB 1
    • Issuance of the bonds would improve PERA’s funded status and could reduce the amortization period on unfunded liabilities resulting in potential long-term future savings for employers and employees.
    • Bonds will provide for contribution security by ensuring the necessary contributions are maintained to reach full funding.
    • Issuing the bonds would not incur any new cost to taxpayers, the state, employers, employees or retirees.
  • Ensure Fiscal Discipline
    • As proposed, the bonds could reduce the amortization period by as much as five years, saving employers $4.5 billion in today’s inflation-adjusted dollars.
    • Without bonds, employers would have to pay approximately an additional 2 – 3 percent in contribution rate increases today in order to similarly reduce the amortization period.
  • Provide Transparency
    • Bonds will only be issued upon successful completion of a legal Validation Proceeding, providing for a final, non-appealable Court Order.
    • The debt service to pay for the bonds will be known at the time of issuance because only fixed-rate bonds are permitted.
    • Proceeds will be managed by PERA investment professionals with the oversight of the PERA Board of Trustees only for the benefit of its members.

 How This Proposal Differs From Other Bond Issuance:

  • Other States
    • Unlike in many other states, these bonds would not cost anyone any new money, nor would they free-up money to pay for other short-term state budget priorities.
    • These bonds do not provide for a contribution “holiday.” Under the proposal, an issuance of bonds secures the bond payments through an explicit bond covenant designed to maintain the existing employer and employee contribution rates into PERA.

 Additional Information:

  • Colorado PERA is sustainable today and into the future as a result of the reforms passed in SB 1. As proposed, the issuance of bonds could improve the funded ratio and shorten the timeframe for PERA to become fully funded by taking advantage of low interest rates and PERA’s investment program.
  • As proposed, the issuance of bonds is intended to result in a funded status of approximately 70-80 percent in the State and School Divisions, and ensures PERA will remain one of Colorado’s best investments.
  • The bonds would be issued by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA), under the direction of the Governor and State Treasurer.
  • Colorado PERA would invest the funds as it does today – in a globally diversified portfolio with an investment time horizon that matches the fiscal discipline of the bond issuance.

HB15 1235 – Colorado Retirement Security Taskforce

Sponsors: Representatives Buckner and Pettersen and Senators Steadman and Todd

Read the bill in its entirety by clicking here.

What the bill does: The Colorado Retirement Task Force bill creates a task force comprised of experts that will study the factors affecting Coloradans ability to save for retirement, make recommendations for increasing the number of Coloradans working in the private sector saving for their retirement and assess the feasibility of creating a Secure Savings Program.

Why we need this bill: For decades, Americans have built their retirement with traditional pensions, Social Security and personal savings. Saving through a workplace retirement plan is the easiest and best way for most workers to save, yet almost half of Colorado private sectors workers currently do not have any type of retirement savings plan at work.

Consider the facts:

  • 45% of Colorado’s private-sector workers or 765,717 Coloradans have no retirement savings plan at work.
  • Younger workers are disproportionately affected. 53% of Colorado workers aged 25 -29 and 47% of those aged 30-34 have no retirement savings plan at work.
  • About 8 out 10 Coloradans working in small businesses have no workplace retirement plan – 75% of those in businesses with less than 50 employees and 81% of workers in firms with less than 11 employees have no workplace plan.
  • 74% of Colorado’s lowest paid workers have no retirement plan at work.
  • 58% of Hispanic, 47% of African American and 46% of female workers in Colorado have no retirement plan at work.

Coloradans need to save more for their retirements. Adequate savings can mean the difference between making ends meet in retirement or living in poverty and depending on public assistance.

How a Secure Savings Plan works:

  • Workers can save a portion of their wages through a simple, opt-out payroll deduction
  • Savings plan is portable – can be taken from job to job in Colorado
  • Investments are professionally managed and fees are capped
  • Helps small business owners provide their employees with access to a retirement savings plan
  • Makes it saving easier for Coloradans who are self-employed, on contract or working multiple jobs

How the bill works:

It creates, bi-partisan appointed task force comprised of 15 experts directed to accomplish two tasks:

  1. Study and report on the factors that affect Coloradan’s ability to save for a financially secure retirement. It shall consider: the barriers people face in saving for retirement, access to and types of employer sponsored retirement plans, how much Colorado would save on public assistance if more Coloradans have adequate retirement savings, estimates of the amount of retirement savings Coloradans currently have and the amounts needed for a financially secure retirement.
  1. Study and report on the feasibility of creating a Secure Savings Plan for private sector employees. A public private effort that would: pool all employee contributions, hold them in trust and invest them; provide for professional management of the investments; be portable between jobs in Colorado; include options to disburse retirement benefits through a lifetime annuity and shield the state and employers from any financial obligation or liability.

The task force will begin its work by August 1, 2055, report on the factors affecting Coloradans’ ability to save for retirement by March 1, 2016 and report on the feasibility of creating a Secure Saving Plan for private sector workers by September 20, 2106.

The work of the Task Force will provide legislators, other policy makers and Coloradans with solid information on the problem and solutions for helping Coloradans better save for a financially secure retirement.

 

SB15 80 – Participation in PERA’s Defined Contribution Plan

STATUS: SB 80 has been killed in House State Affairs

UPDATE: Senate Bill 80 passed out of Senate Finance on February 10th on a 3-2 party line vote – even after the fiscal note becoming public that morning showing the bill would cost $4.2 BILLION – click here to see the fiscal note for yourself.

On February 13th, the Senate passed the bill on 2nd reading.

Senate Bill 80 was introduced by Senator Owen Hill (R – Colorado Springs)

This bill would allow all PERA employees the option to choose the PERA pension plan or the 401(k) style plan. Currently, State employees have this option. This bill would expand that option to all divisions.

Secure PERA opposes this bill. Retirement security for our employees is of the utmost importance and this bill erodes that security.

Read the entire bill here.

SB15 97 – Supplemental Needs Trust for PERA Benefits

UPDATE: The Governor has signed SB 97

Senate Bill 97 was introduced by Senator Aguilar (D – Denver) and Representative Landgraf (R – Fountain).

This bill fixes the law to protect dependents who are disabled from losing access to needs-based government benefits because of their designation as a beneficiary and protects those rights upon the death of the PERA recipient.

Secure PERA supports this bill.

Read the entire bill here.

HB14 1377 – Retirement Security Task Force

Update: The bill was lost on the Senate floor during Second Reading.

The Colorado Retirement Security Task Force bill creates a legislative task force that will make recommendations for increasing the number of Coloradans working in the private sector who have invested for their retirement and are enrolled in a retirement plan. The task force will analyze options to promote retirement security for Coloradans.

The bill specifies various areas of study for the task force, including, but not limited to:

  • existing barriers to retirement;
  • lack of access to employer-sponsored retirement plans;
  • the types of employer-sponsored retirement plans and individual retirement products currently offered in the state;
  • options that may include a defined contribution structure for retirement savings;
  • estimates of the average amount of retirement wealth state residents have upon retirement; and estimates of the average amount of retirement wealth recommended for a financially secure retirement in the state.

Appointed task force members must have sufficient financial and fiscal expertise. The state demographer will also be an ex officio member of the task force. The task force will also analyze any potential state savings in public assistance expenditures that a potential statewide secure retirement plan may provide. The task force will hold its first meeting by August 1, 2014, and will meet as necessary through December 2015. Members will serve without compensation or reimbursement. The task force will submit a final report and make recommendations for legislative action by December 1, 2015. The task force repeals on June 30, 2016. Legislative Department staff will provide support to the task force.