On PERA fixes, the marketplace of ideas is open

Walker Stapleton’s light-on-details plan to shore up Colorado PERA by eliminating cost of living increases for the foreseeable future “is ambitious, but likely too aggressive,” the Denver Post opines.¬†As legislators begin grappling with this thorny problem, however, it’s time to throw open the doors of the ideas marketplace to see if a workable solution emerges from some unlikely quarter.

In the interest of robust debate, we will highlight ideas that come to our attention from various sources.

For example: We came across the following idea in a letter to the editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette: Don’t allow PERA members, with limited exceptions, to retire until they hit the “retirement age as defined by Social Security law” of 67. Members can retire early if they so desire, but must live on other retirement savings until they hit the magic age.

“A defined benefit plan is an advantage that should not exploit other taxpayers by accessing it prior to full retirement,” letter-writer Barry Schultz argued:

There are only a few conditions that, I believe would be exceptions to this criteria. One would address first responders who risk their lives in their duties. The others would be a disability that limited employment opportunities and a medical infirmity that did the same. If one wants to retire from a PERA job prior to 66 years of age that is their prerogative. If one chooses to retire permanently prior to 66 years of age that is, again, their choice. Taxpayer dollars should not fund early retirement…

I believe, given the increases in improved personal health and longevity, that this is a reasonable solution for the difficulties PERA is facing. I leave it to those with better actuarial skills to determine the implementation details.

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