FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2018
Contact: Cinamon Watson
CSPR, Colorado Concern, Colorado Association of Realtors, CACI, Colorado Bankers Association, Colorado Business Roundtable, Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Denver South EDP, NFIB to State Legislators, “We can, and we must, do better”
DENVER, CO – Today, Colorado’s most prominent business organizations issued an open letter to lawmakers urging responsible reforms to PERA.
“The failure to rein in benefit costs and ever-increasing taxpayer-funded contributions from school districts, state agencies and local governments will send Colorado down the path of states like Illinois, where public pensions consume one quarter of the state budget,” warn leaders signing the letter.
The findings of a recent study by the REMI Partnership, “One Step Further on PERA Reform: How to build on proposals from Colorado PERA and Governor Hickenlooper to eliminate unfunded liabilities and reduce burdens on state, local and school district budgets,” show just how unbalanced the PERA system has become. Taxpayer-funded contributions into the PERA system from school districts, state agencies and local governments have doubled over the past decade to $1.6 billion a year, according to the report.
Business leaders emphasized that the rising unfunded PERA liability is costing taxpayers money and putting other budget priorities at risk.
“Already in Colorado, we are seeing pension costs crowding out other major budget priorities, such as teacher pay raises and investments in transportation and higher education,” the letter says.
With less than a week left in the legislative session, lawmakers are grappling with SB 200, a proposed measure to reform PERA, which has significant flaws.
“Overall, the House changes to SB-200 would put hundreds of millions of dollars of additional pension costs on the backs of taxpayers every year. If these provisions become law, pension costs will further consume taxpayer dollars and crowd out other important budget demands, including teacher salaries and transportation, even more than is currently the case,” state the business leaders signing the letter.
“We simply can’t ignore one of the biggest challenges facing our state,” added Earl Wright, Chairman of the Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR) Board of Directors. “Annual pension costs are crushing state, local and school district budgets and crowding out badly needed investments in roads, schools and other essential public services. A plan that eliminates the unfunded liability by forcing school districts, state agencies and local governments to pay even more would be no real victory at all.”
About the REMI Partnership: Common Sense Policy Roundtable, Colorado Concern, Colorado Association of REALTORS®, Colorado Bankers Association, and Denver South Economic Development Partnership have partnered to develop independent, fact-based analysis that quantifies the broader economic impacts associated with policy changes. The partnership has provided Colorado lawmakers, policy makers, business leaders, and citizens with greater insight into the economic impact of public policy decisions that face the state.