Stapleton’s comments distort, mislead

Colorado residents deserve to know the truth. Walker Stapleton’s comments about the Public Employees’ Retirement Association employ distortion and flawed reasoning. Stapleton’s recent actions appear motivated by desire for personal political gain, not by concern for Colorado’s economic stability nor the welfare of its citizens. As a PERA board of trustees member, he should abide by the governance charter which says the board will “perform their functions solely in the interests of the members and benefit recipients ...”

The facts:

Colorado State employees/retirees are ordinary citizens. They are paying or have paid into a retirement plan to secure their future. If they contributed enough to Social Security before working for the state of Colorado, then their SS benefit is reduced. They may or have endured salary freezes, furloughs and insurance-premium hikes that equate to no pay raise or even a pay cut. Their salaries consistently fall below the private sector, and some years they receive no salary realignment. Their retirement plan, on a path to solvency, costs the state a mere 2.16 percent of all local and state spending.

Consumer spending fuels the economy. Steady income allows consumers to spend, which supports jobs and ensures tax revenues. About 100,000 PERA retirees recycle millions of dollars into Colorado’s economy and sustain thousands of local jobs.

PERA’s defined benefit structure provides reliable benefit payments to retirees thus allowing them to steadily contribute to consumer spending.

Stapleton wants to convert PERA’s defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan. This is significantly more costly (because of lower returns/higher fees, less balanced portfolio, no longevity risk pooling) to the state and would make benefit payments less reliable (because of stock market volatility) thus negatively impacting consumer spending and economic recovery.

Via rigorous management, PERA’s annualized investment returns have been 8.5 percent over 25 years and 10 percent over 30 years. After the 2008 economic downturn, comprehensive changes through bipartisan effort and tough sacrifices from public employees ensure that PERA is on track to be fully funded.

PERA provides economic stability to Colorado. Let’s be smart and informed – not misled.

Fran Block


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