Tag Archives: PERA

Two very Different Views on Modest PERA Reform

Remember the teacher walkouts this spring? Senate Bill 18-200 was one of several reasons why the teacher unions held rallies at the State Capitol Building. Learn more about the bipartisan legislation that Governor Hickenlooper has signed into law and read two very different views on its impact.

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New Update: Teacher Walkouts Potentially Cost Taxpayers $ 13.3 Million

According to Colorado Chalkbeat, 27 Colorado school districts have cancelled classes due to the teacher walkouts scheduled later this week. Based on the average teacher salary in each district plus the cost of PERA benefits, the teacher walkouts in the 27 districts are potentially costing taxpayers $13.3 million. This figure does not include classified employees who serve at each school.

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Colorado Gets Bad Grade on NCTQ's Latest Pension Report

We’ve been talking a lot about policy recently. ESEA reauthorization issues, the hazards of requiring state testing in private schools, and some number crunchin’ on the subject of Colorado’s school funding. Then last Friday, you had a nice break. We spoke instead about School Choice Week, which is sort of like Christmas for eduwatchers like me. The successful (and fun) NCSW rally is over, but School Choice Week is still going. That means you should be out tweeting and Facebooking and doing everything you can to get the message out! Before you go do that, though, let’s talk about just a little more policy. And to spice things up, let’s make it PERA policy. You’ll recall that we’ve talked before about the wild, shaggy policy beast that is the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association. Like many others, I pointed out some serious flaws with the state’s system, including unfunded liabilities and the unfair way the current system treats young or new public employees. Well, those problems as they relate to teachers have once again been quantified by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). The organization recently released its latest annual report on the health of teacher pension systems around […]

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COLA Wars: Yesterday's Colorado Supreme Court Ruling on PERA

My parents don’t often let me drink soda, but I like to think of myself as a Coca-Cola guy. Pepsi just doesn’t quite do it for me. And don’t even get me started on the off-brand colas. Big K Cola? Yuck! I have to admit, though, that I haven’t yet tasted this PERA COLA thing I’ve heard so much about. Maybe that’s for the best; judging by some of the reactions I’ve seen to yesterday’s Colorado Supreme Court ruling on the issue, I’m thinking I’d probably find it a bit too heavy. I wrapped up last week’s policy adventures by writing about Colorado’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), which provides pensions for many Colorado’s public school teachers (roughly  and a large number of other public employees in the state. In that post, I briefly mentioned a 2010 bill that aimed at partially correcting one of PERA’s biggest problems: Unfunded liabilities. While that bill was a small—perhaps inadequately small—step in the right direction for Colorado, it required some tough changes to be made. Among those changes was a reduction in annual cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments for those covered by PERA’s pensions—including the more than 100,000 retirees who are already receiving benefits. More […]

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The Unfair Retirement PERA-chute: New Group Pushes for Pension Reform

Happy Friday, readers. I know we’ll all be starting our weekends in a few hours, but I think there’s time to squeeze in just a little more education policy before then. Today’s topic: reform efforts centered on Colorado’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA). I’ve written about PERA and some of its pitfalls before, but let’s recap briefly for those who are new to the discussion. PERA is Colorado’s public employee pension plan, and the program covers a variety of public employees. Many of those employees are—you guessed it—public school teachers. While the phrase “pension plan” sounds decidedly innocuous, PERA has been criticized frequently. Among other things, the scheme has been knocked for tying Colorado to some pretty nasty unfunded liabilities and unfairly penalizing young or new public employees. Although a 2010 bill attempted to address some of PERA’s problems, it may not have fully righted the listing ship. Now, though, the winds may be starting to shift.

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As DPSRS-PERA Merger Looms, Come March 20 to Independence Institute to Learn About K-12 Pension Compensation

That didn’t take long. The Rocky Mountain News is no more, but education reporter extraordinaire Nancy Mitchell is back. Hopefully the first of many, she has posted a lengthy piece on the proposed merger of the Denver Public Schools (DPS) and state PERA retirement systems. DPS officials are pushing the discussion forward, saying that the current set-up costs them funding that could be used in the classrooms: “We pay $685 more per pupil per year in pension and retiree costs than any of the other 177 school districts in Colorado,” [superintendent Tom] Boasberg said, “which comes out to $47 million more per year … “Translate that into teachers, that’s 700 or 800 teachers, that’s a reduction in our class size of 15 to 20 percent. Every class that has 30 students would be a class of 25 students.” Unfortunately, this article didn’t delve into the costly problem that University of Colorado at Denver professor Michael Mannino highlighted in his recent Independence Institute report Deferred Retirement Compensation for Career K-12 Employees: Understanding the Need for Reform (PDF). The average retired DPS career employee can expect to earn $627,570 more in benefits than his or her estimated retirement account balance. It’s a […]

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