Colorado’s Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) told statutory board member State Treasurer Walker Stapleton that it would not release information such as annual benefits, age of retirement, former job and zip code of the top 20 percent of pension recipients to him.
In an interview with Amy Oliver on News Talk 1310 KFKA, Stapleton said that PERA doesn’t trust him to “uphold his fiduciary loyalty to plan members” based on his public comments about the woefully under funded pension system. Since the Treasurer is an elected official, does that mean PERA doesn’t trust voters? Probably.
The Colorado State Treasury is the constitutional custodian of the public’s funds. It is the Treasury’s duty to manage and account for the citizen’s tax dollars from the time they are received until the time they are disbursed. The Treasury’s staff is committed to safeguarding and managing the people’s monies with the same diligence and care as they do their own.
By PERA’s own accounting (which is suspect as Stapleton explains), the plan is $21 billion under funded but that is based on an unrealistic 8 percent annual rate of return. It’s really much worse.
PERA’s insolvency problem won’t be solved if it continues to keep board members in the dark. The information the Treasurer seeks is public record in other states such as Illinois and California, which just sided with transparency and open government when a three-judge appellate court ruled that names and pension benefits of plan members must be disclosed.
It’s high time that PERA stop hiding behind their firewall of secrecy and trust the Treasurer and the voters who put him there. Those who pay the bills deserve full disclosure, especially since we will have to fix the problem. And retirees deserve the piece of mind knowing that benefits will be available to them.