Goal: An effective public retirement system is governed in a transparent and understandable manner that represents the interests of all stakeholders, including both current and future PERA members and all other taxpayers.

Reality: The large unfunded liability and uncertain financial future of Colorado’s retirement system expose PERA members, state and local governments, and other taxpayers to significant risks.

As can be seen in the chart to the right, the state has underfunded PERA over the last several years resulting in the unfunded pension liability growing to $25.8 billion.[1] This shortfall in pension funding is greater than double the state’s yearly revenue.[2] This poses a significant risk to PERA members’ retirement security and the state’s overall fiscal health.

In addition, any plan that requires decades to pay off the state’s billions of dollars in unfunded pension liability creates the risk of future underfunding by policymakers who may face the temptation of putting off future PERA payments to cover other short-term needs.

Burned-Out Barbara

After teaching middle school for 20 years, Barbara is burned out and wants to change careers.  Yet under PERA’s current structure, her benefits will quadruple if she stays in the classroom another 10 years. Under a smooth accrual system, her benefits would increase more steadily throughout her tenure.

Visit our PERA Member Profiles page to read more about these illustrations.

Years teaching in Colorado classrooms: 20

Barbara’s lifetime benefit if she leaves now: $116,422

Barbara’s lifetime benefit if she teaches 10 more years: $522,079

Barbara earns $405,657 less if she leaves now