Colorado’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) contains more than $30 billion of unfunded liability, which represents a potential disaster for Colorado taxpayers. The federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) is estimated to deliver an additional $3.9 billion to the state government, which, along with government revenue that is forecasted to grow to $936 Million above pre-pandemic levels in the next fiscal year budget, there is a unique opportunity for Colorado to make bold investments in its future and pay down some debt, likely including the large unfunded liabilities of PERA.

Common Sense Institute President & CEO Kristin Strohm takes over hosting duties on this edition of Common Sense Digest and has the unique privilege of turning the tables on our usual host, CSI Chairman Earl Wright, who brings unique insight into the PERA discussion. Also joining us is Amy Slothower, Project Director for Secure Futures Colorado, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to public pension reform. Amy recently wrote a great opinion piece published in Colorado Politics a few weeks ago that helped to inspire this conversation.

Additionally, Zachary Christensen, Managing Director at the Pension Integrity Project and Senior Policy Analyst for REASON Foundation joins the program. The Pension Integrity Project at Reason Foundation offers pro-bono consulting to public officials and other stakeholders to help them design and implement pension reforms that improve plan solvency and promote retirement security. All three unpack the contributing factors that led us here, assess the current situation, and examine the potential fixes in a lively and stimulating discussion.

Our report on the issue can be found here.