Goal: An effective public retirement system is transparent and understandable so that policymakers and the public can monitor and respond as necessary to address future costs.

Denver Union Station

Reality: Defined benefit plans like PERA count on an annual required contribution from employers whose workers are members of the pension.

Colorado has long underpaid the annual required contribution to PERA. Over the past 15 years, Colorado has paid only 72.3% of the designated amount.

This means that from a surplus of $1.5 billion in 2000, PERA now has an unfunded liability of $25.8 billion.[1]

The State Chronically Underfunds PERA

% of Annual Required Contribution

2008

68%

2009

74%

2010

66%

2011

87%

2012

85%

2013

79%

Over the last ten years, Colorado has rarely paid what it owed. This chart shows the percent paid by the state of the required contributions.

In April 2014, a Denver Post column highlighted that lawmakers neglected to take any steps in the legislative session to protect Colorado taxpayers and PERA members from the unfunded liability, noting that “the politics are too treacherous and lawmakers will move on long before the bills come due.”

Feeling-Young Frank

Although Frank has been teaching for 35 years and is eligible for retirement, Frank is hitting his stride and impacting kids in ways he never expected. He would love to keep teaching, but knows that he loses retirement benefits by doing so. Frank is now forced to choose between helping future students and maximizing his retirement benefits.

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

Years teaching in Colorado classrooms: 35

Frank’s lifetime benefit if he leaves now: $666,981

Frank’s lifetime benefit if he teaches 10 more years: $418,869

Frank earns $248,112 less if he teaches 10 more years