People have peculiar ideas about PERA

Monday, July 30, 2018 5:00 PM

It never ceases to amaze me how many misperceptions there are concerning Public Employees Retirement Association.

PERA is the retirement fund for all public employees in the state of Colorado. Public employees include state troopers; everyone who works in public education, including cooks, teachers and superintendents; judicial employees; Colorado Department of Transportation employees; and other positions within local and state government.

PERA is a defined benefit program, just like Social Security. All public employees contribute a percentage of their salary to the fund as do their employers. Public employees do not contribute to Social Security, nor do their employers. PERA retirees receive a monthly benefit check, which is calculated based on years of service and a percentage of their highest annual salary.

PERA has been in existence for 87 years and has never needed to be bailed out by the taxpayers. Public employees are also taxpayers. The majority of public employees do not belong to a union and are not represented by union lobbyists at the state legislature.

The assumption that eliminating defined benefit programs and replacing them with defined contribution programs would be a better option for all employees everywhere goes beyond my comprehension. A defined-contribution retirement program puts the responsibility entirely on the employee to invest wisely. So, how did that 401K work for you during the recession of 2008?

Terri Helm