Bill on PERA retirement calculations for new hires tabled

HB 1150 the latest of several PERA bills to die in committee

A bill that would have changed the way retirement benefits are calculated for new hires joining the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) was tabled indefinitely – essentially killing the bill – by the Senate Finance Committee during its April 12 regular meeting.

House Bill 12-1150 would have changed the number of years used to calculate highest average salary to seven instead of the current three.

Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, said the bill was intended to:

  • ensure the financial stability of PERA.
  • prevent spiking by employees who are paid high salaries in the final years of their careers.

The bill passed the Colorado State House after a lengthy and partisan debate March 15. It was not expected to pass the Senate.

Opponents, including several who testified in front of the Senate Finance Committee on April 10, said Senate Bill 1, passed in 2010, made Lambert’s bill unnecessary. That bill capped salary changes at 8 percent, which, according to PERA, is one of the most restrictive rules in the country. SB1 also helped stabilize the fund by capping yearly cost of living increases. In addition, many Democrats and citizen opponents said HB 1150 would punish the average employee with a decrease in benefits that could amount to as much as 11 percent.

HB12-1150 is the latest in a string of PERA bills that have been killed in committee. In most cases, the bills did not have the votes needed to pass.

Only one PERA-related bill remains alive. HB 12-1179 would allow the governor to appoint an additional four members, for a total of seven, to the Board of Trustees. Similar bills proposing membership changes have been defeated by the legislature in the past. The bill has been assigned to the House Finance Committee; a hearing has not been scheduled.

2012 PERA legislation killed in committee:

HB 12-1142: The bill would have allowed PERA members to enroll in the defined contribution plan instead of the defined benefit plan. Currently, only new state employees and some new university employees can choose between the plans. Killed by sponsor in House Appropriations Committee

HB12-1250: The bill would have changed employee contributions and eliminated the health care program subsidy for those with Medicare coverage. Killed by sponsor in House Finance Committee

SB 12-16: The bill would have allowed local government employers to shift up to 2.5 percent of contributions to employees. Killed by Senate Finance Committee

SB 12-82: The bill would have changed the retirement-age eligibility for those hired after Jan. 1, 2013, to the same age as those receiving Social Security benefits. Killed by Senate Finance Committee

SB 12-19: The bill would have required PERA’s Board of Trustees to reduce benefits when the unfunded liability amortization of the plan exceeded 30 years for each division. Killed by Senate Finance Committee

SB 12-84: The bill would have made public certain information about PERA’s elected officials and cabinet members. Killed by Senate Finance Committee

SB 12-136: The bill would have changed the frequency and information contained in the state personnel compensation report. Killed by Senate Finance Committee

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