Is Colorado Next?

Where is education in Colorado heading? Hopefully, you’ve read (and shared and signed) about the statewide education funding initiative we are working on. In the meantime, Englewood announced a district closure as teachers there requested personal days to head to the Capitol to lobby our legislators about PERA, the social security replacement for public employees that voters requested in 1931.

http://kdvr.com/2018/04/12/englewood-schools-closed-monday-as-teachers-expected-to-walk-out/

“Lawmakers should recall that the state and employers have underfunded PERA by $4.5 billion since 2001. This is a significant component of our unfunded liability, which has undermined the stability of our commitment to public employees. It should not be made up solely from current and future retirees. When fewer people participate in PERA because of the defined contribution, then the whole system suffers.”

https://www.chieftain.com/opinion/ideas/kerrie-dallman-keeping-pera-solvent-for-our-public-servants/article_77b1372f-784c-547d-b053-a169fc5f3b44.html

Last month, CEA issued this press release regarding a bill that harms the retirement system for our educators (actually all employees of the State of Colorado, all school districts, the judicial system, state troopers, and many municipalities and local government entities.)

March 27, 2018

PERA BILL HURTS EDUCATORS

SB-200 passes Senate with harmful provisions that do not improve program

DENVER – Statement from CEA President Kerrie Dallman on Senate Bill 18-200 passing Colorado Senate today…

“I’m proud that CEA members wrote more than 5,600 emails and made nearly 900 calls to their senators expressing concerns about SB-200. The current bill must be changed or defeated in the House as several harmful provisions still exist in SB-200 which do not improve the financial health of PERA and make the pension program worse. With the growing educator shortage, we simply cannot afford to shortchange future educators by including a defined contribution plan. The current bill hurts those who are underpaid already. The defined contribution provision does nothing to shore up PERA, and adds to the program cost in the long-term. The Senate also chose to absolve the state of its responsibility to shoulder a fair share of the PERA reform burden, even when the state and employers have underfunded PERA by $4.5 billion since 2001. This is a significant component of our unfunded liability which has undermined the stability of PERA and our commitment to public employees. Let us work together to improve PERA, but not on the backs of public servants who make Colorado a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Just to be clear, PERA is not a 401K and these employees do not get social security. Colorado voters made this decision! “PERA is a substitute for Social Security for most of these public employees. Benefits are pre-funded, which means while a member is working, he or she is required to contribute a fixed percentage of their salary to the retirement trust funds. This percentage is 8 percent for most members. Employers also contribute a percentage of pay to the trust fund.”

So, it is logical that these Englewood educators are taking action when a bill impacts their lives, futures, and livelihood. The Capitol and legislature only operate Monday through Friday when school is in session and if your legislator isn’t being responsive to you, visiting them is always wise.

Just as they did in West Virginia:

And Oklahoma:

And Arizona:

And Kentucky:

Is Colorado next?