Retirement insights from a Colorado PERA perspective

Legislation & Governance

2017 Proposed Legislation Status

pension review

A summary of proposed legislation affecting Colorado PERA. Check back often for new bills and updated status reports. Last updated: May 3, 2017.

Board of Trustees Votes on Proposed Legislation


Active Bills


House Bill 17-1176

PERA Retirees Employed By Rural School Districts

Concerning an extension of the employment after retirement limitations for retirees of the public employees’ retirement association employed by a rural school district after retirement.

Summary: The bill modifies the current PERA employment after retirement provisions for certain retirees hired by an employer in the school division if:

  • The employer that hires the service retiree is a rural school district as determined by the department of education based on certain criteria and the school district enrolls 6,500 students or fewer in kindergarten through 12th grade;
  • The school district hires the service retiree for the purpose of providing classroom instruction or school bus transportation to students enrolled by the district or for the purpose of being a school food services cook; and
  • The school district determines that there is a critical shortage of qualified teachers, school bus drivers, or school food services cooks, as applicable, and that the service retiree has specific experience, skills, or qualifications that would benefit the district.

Sponsors: Rep. Jon Becker (R-Fort Morgan) and Rep. Barbara McLachlan (D-Durango) | Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling)

Status: Sent to Governor

PERA Board position: Oppose


House Bill 17-1265

PERA Judicial Division Total Employer Contribution

Concerning an increase in the total employer contribution for employers in the Judicial Division of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association.

Summary: The Judicial Division Amortization Equalization Disbursement (AED) was capped at 2.20% in 2010. The Supplemental Amortization Equalization Disbursement (SAED) was capped at 1.50% in 2010. This bill would increase the AED and SAED to 3.4% each beginning in 2019 and increase each disbursement rate by .4% every year thereafter until they cap at 5% in 2023.

Sponsors: Rep. KC Becker (D-Boulder) and Rep. Dan Nordberg (R-Colorado Springs) | Sen. Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood) and Sen. Kevin Priola (R-Henderson)

Status: Sent to Governor

PERA Board position: Support


Inactive Bills


House Bill 17-1114

State Treasurer’s Authority To Access PERA Information

Concerning the authority of the State Treasurer to access information kept by the Public Employees’ Retirement Association in the Treasurer’s capacity as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Association.

Summary: The bill requires the PERA Board and its Executive Director to provide to the Treasurer of the State of Colorado the ability to review all records and information retained by PERA upon request. The request can’t be denied for any reason. The State Treasurer is responsible for any reasonable costs, beyond de Minimis expenses, and the information or records shall not be used for personal reasons by the Treasurer.

Sponsors: Rep. Justin Everett (R-Littleton) and Sen. Jack Tate (R-Centennial)

Status: Postponed Indefinitely (State, Veterans, & Military Affairs 3/1/17)

PERA Board position: Oppose


Senate Bill 17-113

Cap Employer Contribution Rates For PERA

Concerning a requirement that the total employer contribution rates for Public Employees’ Retirement Association employers in the 2018 calendar year are the maximum total employer contribution rates for future calendar years.

Summary: The bill requires that for the calendar year beginning January 1, 2018, and for each calendar year thereafter, the total of the employer contribution, the AED, and the SAED for any employer will not exceed the total contribution rates for the 2018 calendar year pursuant to current law.

Sponsors: Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) and Rep. Justin Everett (R-Littleton)

Status: Postponed Indefinitely (State, Veterans, & Military Affairs 3/1/17)

PERA Board position: Oppose


Senate Bill 17-158

Modify Composition Of PERA Board Of Trustees

Concerning modifications to the composition of the Board of Trustees of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association.

Summary: The bill modifies the composition of the board by:

  • Eliminating one elected member trustee position from the state division;
  • Eliminating 2 elected member trustee positions from the school division;
  • Requiring at least one elected member from both the state division and the school division to be at least 20 years from retirement eligibility; and
  • Adding 3 more trustees appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate who are not PERA members or retirees and who are experts in certain fields to replace the eliminated elected member trustee positions.

Sponsors: Sen. Jack Tate (R-Centennial) and Rep. Dan Nordberg (R-Colorado Springs)

Status: Postponed Indefinitely (State, Veterans, & Military Affairs 3/15/17)

PERA Board position: Oppose


Senate Bill 17-185

District Attorney Salary Compensation And PERA

Concerning the compensation of attorneys working in the office of a district attorney.

Summary: The bill allows the boards of county commissioners of the counties within a judicial district, in consultation with the district attorney, to make a one-time irrevocable election to require an assistant district attorney to become a member of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association’s defined benefit plan. In such case, the state would pay 80% and the counties would pay 20% of the employer contribution for an assistant district attorney.

Sponsors: Sen. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs) and Rep. Matt Gray (D-Broomfield)

Status: Postponed Indefinitely (Finance 3/16/17)

PERA Board position: not yet reviewed


Previous legislative session summaries:

2016 Legislative Session

2015 Legislative Session

2014 Legislative Session

Comments

  1. Gary Skiba says:

    I presume this would give the Treasurer specific rights that would not be shared by other PERA board members. If that’s the case, the PERA board should oppose it. The Treasurer should NOT have access to information that isn’t relevant to the management of PERA, like my name and the amount of my specific benefit.

  2. Meredith Williams says:

    This legislation is a farce! The current State Treasurer has no concept of his fiduciary responsibilities to the members of the PERA system. He is totally focused on his political career. This legislation is dangerous and should be opposed by the PERA Board.

    • Mark H. says:

      I agree with Meredith. Stapleton has attempted this in the past and was not successful in that lawsuit. It sure would be nice if the Governor would require him to stop playing games and start working for PERA members. His poor performance as a Fiduciary should require that he be replaced with a competent person. Let’s compare his long term average return as State Treasurer with PERA’s long term performance.

    • Mike Jones says:

      Seems like the republicans are always trying to tap my retirement. I worked very hard for it and made the contributions necessary to achieve a retirement benefit. The contributions I made and saved for and no one else did for me were taken from my pay check every month as part of my pay package for 30 years. Additionally I pay taxes every month when I receive my benefit. Keep out of my retirement plan. If you want a great future like I have, make the long term commitment like I did back in 1984. I held up my part of the bargain and PERA is doing a fantastic job honoring our agreement. Thank you PERA.

      • Mark H. says:

        Real Republicans would not propose this type of legislation because it is dishonest and irresponsible. The Republicans proposing this legislation are part of the swamp that needs to be drained. They took this on without really understanding PERA. If they can be convinced to be involved in such a hair-brained scheme to make Walker Stapleton look good for political purposes, then none of them deserve to represent us. Including Walker.

  3. Marv Paule says:

    Based upon previous efforts by the Treasurer’s office to obtain PERA information, for instance, a list of the highest paid PERA annuitants and where they worked, these requests are simply an effort to be divisive and to undermine the PERA retirement plan. A blanket, unfettered ability of the Treasurer to obtain information related to individual annuitants is a gross invasion of our privacy and could “leak” at any time. Averaged and grouped information, for instance the annuity AVERAGE of everyone in the top 10-20%, next 10-20%, etc., is sufficient for evaluating the efficiency and funded status of PERA without opening the door to witchhunts by that office.

    • Mark H. says:

      All benefits are based on PERA’s returns, that person’s/employer’s contributions, and service years. In other words, people who receive more at retirement, also contributed more. It makes no sense to do any comparisons or analysis by grouping. Walker is simply attempting to cherry pick info to try to make an unfair political point for his own political benefit. No members of OUR board should be gaming our retirement plan like that.

  4. Eric Rogers says:

    I agree that this is being done for political reasons. There is no reasonable need for the treasurer or any other elected official to have access to specific personal information. This an invasion of my privacy. The PERA Trust Fund belongs to the members and not to the state.

  5. Jacqueline Simpson says:

    I feel that this is an invasion of privacy as well and it appears to be politically motivated. As a retired teacher of twenty years I can’t afford to have special interest politicians meddling with the only income I have and you can bet there are ulterior motives behind this one. The board should oppose it stringently.

  6. Tom Crago says:

    I see no compelling State or PERA interest to be served by this obvious attempt by the State Treasurer to snoop into the personal records of individual annuitants. This is not a proper role for the State Treasurer. Aggregated data should be sufficient for him, and any other Board Member, to evaluate the operations of the PERA program. This bill should be opposed, and those legislators who support it should be identified for us, so we can exercise our right to elect representatives to do just that – represent us!

  7. AM Ladd says:

    I agree with the above 3 comments. Access is not necessary to do his job. This is another way for the data to be misinterpreted and incorrectly reported. Keep the Treasurer’s hands off our funds. It’s private. The PERA Board should oppose this.

  8. O. Wright says:

    Another political ploy. PERA has enough oversight already.

  9. Mary Corro says:

    Oppose this nonsense!!!

  10. B. Rosenbach says:

    I see no reason that the Treasurer needs access to my personal information, since this was never needed in the past. This Treasurer has not been a supporter of PERA and this request is suspect to his own agenda.

  11. Sandra Lombardi says:

    I believe that this would be an invasion of privacy for PERA members. I can see no reason that the state treasurer would need information on specific individuals’ names, circumstances, and benefits. I believe this could very well be politically motivated. The PERA Board should use all means possible to keep this from happening.

  12. David Benson says:

    I agree with all 13 comments so far. Oppose for every reason listed. Stapleton
    has no business with anyone’s personal information.

  13. Jason Roberts says:

    I see no compelling State or PERA interest to be served by this obvious attempt by the State Treasurer to snoop into the personal records of individual annuitants. This is not a proper role for the State Treasurer. Aggregated data should be sufficient for him, and any other Board Member, to evaluate the operations of the PERA program. This bill should be opposed, and the legislators who support it ( Sponsors: Rep. Justin Everett (R-Littleton) and Sen. Jack Tate (R-Centennial) should be replaced by newly elected representatives that – represent us, not try and play games with PERA funds and my benefits.

  14. Kathy Schneyer says:

    “The request can’t be denied for any reason.” Now, that’s a scary, uneasy, and questionable phrase as part of the legislation. It is a Red Flag and makes me uneasy. The cost and “not to be used for personal reasons” portion is the least of my worries. I’m asking the PERA Board to work against this legislation.

  15. Kristine Kasper says:

    This is a gross invasion of privacy. It seems to be a political effort to undermine the future of our
    hard earned pension plans. The PERA Board should not approve this!

  16. Wayne Williams (NOT sos) says:

    Obviously most people think this is political, I agree! My elderly German friends, raised under Hitler say that this (and trumps agenda) allowed him to get control of Germany and we should be careful!!!

  17. Angela Oliver-Reed says:

    Just say NO

  18. John Fulham says:

    Another attempt to help Walker further his political career. The board should vehemently oppose this position. ( The request cannot be denied for any reason.) Hat a red flag!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Dennis Gatlin says:

    The bill is an unveiled attempt to advance the Treasurer’s political agenda and future public office candidacy. Colorado has open records statutes which seem sufficient. PERA reports to the legislature, the Governor, and members factual financial and actuarial information annually. In this dangerous era of “fake news” and the Treasurer’s lack of objectivity as a fiduciary are sufficient reasons for the Board and every member to oppose this Bill.

  20. Wilma Tebow says:

    This would allow them to collect information on the PERA board of Directors which you fought a couple of years ago. The less they know of our details, the better.

  21. Carol Ilvonen says:

    I cannot believe such a broadly written bill is even possible or comes close to being legal. There is no reason for the State Treasurer to receive unfettered access to all of Pera’s records. Please oppose vigorously.

  22. Julie Coleman says:

    Another feeble attempt at this treasurer’s personal agenda to destroy PERA! Please oppose this swiftly and with vengeance!

  23. Elmer Frederickson says:

    I wonder how hard Mr. Stapleton would push for this bill if it were amended to require him to provide any and all of his personal information to the PERA board with no explanation required.

    This bill is insanity and I can’t help but believe that the legislature will see it for what it is. There are some pretty level headed people in there.

    FIGHT – FIGHT – FIGHT!

    • Mark H. says:

      Vote – Vote – Vote! Don’t forget who the legislators are, who are proposing this.

      Please remember to vote against the House and Senate members who have their names on this legislation, including Walker Stapleton, who will likely be running for Governor.
      HOUSE BILL 17-1114
      HOUSE SPONSORSHIP
      Everett, Navarro, Humphrey, Leonard, Williams D
      SENATE SPONSORSHIP
      Tate, Marble

      • Margaret says:

        I absolutely agree with Mark. VOTE! Take note of the names and do not support them by giving them your vote!
        House Sponsors: Everett, Navarro, Humphrey, Leonard, Williams D
        Senate Sponsor: Tate, Marble

  24. Sandra Billings says:

    Stand firm and say Absolutely NO WAY… What does this man intend to do with this information? PERA is not a political platform for any elected official. Let’s flood his office with “NO” messages.

  25. Mark Trostel says:

    I urge the PERA Board to oopose any legislation proposed by State Treasurer Stapleton. Based on his track record, his interest in such information as outlined in HB 17-1114 is really for personal future political gain. Regardless of what the legislation says that PERA information shall not be used by the State Treasurer for personal reasons, that is a false promise. Should this bill gain any momentum and may be headed for passage, consider amending it to include a felony criminal violation if any PERA annuitant information is divulged or used in any way for personal or political purposes or reasons.

  26. Joy Harger says:

    Pera Board, keep my business private! Vote no!

  27. Ron S says:

    Cap Employer Contribution Rates For PERA hasn’t been talked about in this discussion, and I do agree with everyone about Walker Stapleton, but the contribution rate limiting bill will harm current employees and retirees as well. It is stating that the state will not be held accountable in any additional financial way beyond the contribution rate set for FY 2018 to make PERA stable in the future. It would put the onus on employees and retirees to make any catch up provisions to keep PERA stable. The rates paid by employees would increase, but not the state’s contributions. Retirees would be put in the position of PERA failing and thus their pensions being reduced.

    • Mark H. says:

      The contribution rate cap won’t hurt retirees, but the possibility of reduced COL increases will. If the economy finally improves at a decent rate and we start to see significant inflation, it will affect spending power significantly. The purpose of the rate cap is to put all additional burden on employees. If employers are overburdened, then new employers won’t join PERA and existing members will consider leaving. Both of those possibilities are bad for the PERA fund short term and long term. I’d rather have something, than nothing. Even though I don’t like it, employees may have to contribute more to keep the whole thing afloat. Employers will eventually say “we have had enough”. I think they already feel that way. That would be very bad for all.

  28. P. Williams says:

    This is an outrageous attempt to invade the privacy of private citizens. He tried it before – he was told NO, it is not appropriate and has no valid rationale for PERA to have to satisfy his purient interest in snooping through private citizens’ financial affairs. All of this stuff stinks to the high heavens, and I notice all the names of the sponsors seem to have “R” after them. And NO, we should not “replace” elected board members with three MORE appointed by the governor. PERA does a darned good job on behalf of current employees and retirees. The legislature has never done anywhere nearly as good a job at handling the State’s finances. Tell them to clean up their own act and keep their grubby, greedy paws out of PERA.

  29. Janet W says:

    Another assault on PERA for political aspirations. Political ambition does not equate to fiduciary responsibility. Stay vigilant please! Agree with my fellow member comments!

  30. Priscilla A Dow says:

    All information that I read above are presented by Republicans.
    Why is that ???
    I agree with all comments to oppose this and all bills currently at hand.

  31. .J. C.Huguley says:

    When everyone stops laughing, just say no in unison……………

  32. J says:

    I see nothing in the summaries for HB17-158, 17-113 or 17-1114 that provide a positive to PERA processes or PERA annuitants. As previously commented, they are politically motivated, divisive and potentially disruptive. Please oppose all three of these bills vigorously.

  33. R. A. Carrigan-Merry says:

    17 158 would be a disaster. If the governor and the legislature can put who they want on the PERA board, we are all in trouble. Studies show that retirement plans that are run by members rather than appointees do better. This is Stapleton’s way of getting a board that will do whatever he wants. If he can turn our pension fund into a defined contribution fund all his friends will make millions on fees.

  34. Vote no on this. We should not have to fight this treasurer’s politics every year.

  35. Mary K. LaFontise says:

    I, too, am opposed to Walker Stapleton having any access to a PERA member’s private financial information. Our best interests are certainly not his!
    In addition, the PERA Board should be made up primarily of PERA contributors and retirees. It’s our money and our future.
    Where are the elected Democrats regarding these bills???

  36. J Daugherty says:

    Let’s ask Stapleton and the other sponsors to publish ALL their salaries, per diems, investments, potential retirement benefits, and properties etc.

  37. Craig Yager says:

    All four of the bills presently under review by our PERA should be opposed. Politicians are meddling with our retirement security for political reasons. The finances of PERA have been impeccable, sound, and applauded by the membership.

    The membership of PERA present and future need to be informed of this political interference and take action to let our representatives know we do not support their legislative meddling. If PERA were in trouble, if the mechanics of the retirement system were failing us, then might be a time to examine board composition, record-keeping, etc. However, PERA is one of the most successful retirement system in the nation. Don’t mess with something that is working so well.

  38. Margaret says:

    Stapleton has been relentless in his efforts to control PERA. I am adamantly opposed to anyone other than PERA Board members having access to members personal information. It is another attempt on his part for political gain. His role as State Treasurer does not include the privilege of access to my personal financial information. He is not and should not be in control of the PERA Board. I urge you to strongly oppose!

  39. LR Gagliardi says:

    I hope the PERA board is reviewing these comments. I am opposed as well. My husband is a retiree, and I am soon to be a PERA retiree. They will have access to our WHOLE households personal information.
    In addition, as Mary suggested, I’m concerned about the Democrats representation in these interests. I’m not convinced the PERA contributors best interests are being represented in any of these bills!!

  40. E Fitzgerald says:

    I oppose all these bills. Isn’t it amazing how they are all sponsored by republicans? And I agree with many others on her, like Margaret, in that Walker Stapleton has been relentless in his efforts to get his hands on this private information.

  41. Mary Jane Place says:

    I oppose all these bills, and why is it that the presenters of these bills are Republican. Oue information should remain private.

  42. Jerry says:

    Senate Bill 10-001 imposed a significant “sharing” requirement to retirees by limiting and restricting annual COLAs, resulting in a disproportional 90% share of the future “savings” being assigned to retirees. If the sponsoring legislators of SB 17-113 desire to cap employer contributions, parallel limitations and restrictions should also apply, including the activation of any cap only when the funding levels of all divisions (or an individual division) reaches 100% funded status for a period of three years. Catch-up payments by the legislature would be allowed/required for all of the shortfalls that have been created from employers/legislature not paying the full actuarial required contributions (ARC) on an annual basis. This ARC underpayment has contributed in essence to interest free loans from PERA for other priorities, as determined by legislators.

  43. Peg says:

    Absolutely not! This is bull crap. Protect our privacy. Do they think we’re stupid?
    No, no, no!

  44. Angela Jones says:

    I firmly oppose the first 3 proposals. Pera is well run now, but would be at risk if those bills pass. The last bill regarding rural school districts I’m ok with, except that it should include all job positions.

  45. Margaret Fitzgerald says:

    Since PERA is provided to employees of the Colorado state government, public school teachers in the state, many university and college employees, judges, many employees of cities and towns, State Troopers, and the employees of many other public entities, doesn’t that indicates that all of the people suggesting this along with the Secretary of State would be required to make their tax information available to the public? Am I missing something?

  46. Les Lilly says:

    Yes on HB 17-1176, all Colorado school districts {not just small ones} are struggling to fill teaching and classified staff positions!

    • Mark H. says:

      I think employers have had enough of the increases. I would hate to see them leave PERA membership. That would not be good. I will be surprised if this Bill doesn’t pass. Lots of lobbying by employers will be happening, including the State who always seems to have budget issues. Too bad Walker Stapleton is not making more of a return on State funds.

      “Thank you” to all the hard working teachers!!!

  47. Jack Restivo says:

    Bill 17-158 significantly changes the make-up of the PERA board. The current 16 member board seems to be fairly well balanced to me. The changes proposed would create a board where there would be 6 governor appointed spots plus the state treasurer all with voting power. Of the remaining 9 board members only 8 have the power to vote. I think this bill is just another way to increase the Governor’s power over the board, and if Stapleton is somehow elected Governor it would allow him that much more leverage to change PERA policies. PERA should oppose this bill.

    • Mark H. says:

      I agree. There is only one purpose of this Bill. Stapleton wants PERA to operate just like he operates the State’s affairs. No risk, little return. His return on investments is less than 2% because he only invests in ultra safe bonds type funds. That would be a disaster for all current and future retirees. I’m going to be spending a lot of time campaigning against Walker Stapleton and all of those who are his Bill sponsors. Every PERA member needs to do the same if you value what you have earned, and what PERA has worked so hard to provide for us.

  48. Duane H. says:

    Once again we find Walker Stapleton’s finger prints all over these crime scenes that are being passed off as legislation. If anyone’s salary needs to be capped/reduced, it’s Mr. Stapleton’s. If he would put half as much effort into contributing to PERA’s solvency as he does to it’s destruction we’d already be fully funded. The trouble with him and the other politicians is they are long on mouth and short on solutions that really help, as evidenced by these latest bills, not one of them does anything to further our solvency. Mr. Stapleton never really submits any positive solutions, but instead constantly points out all sorts of negativity regarding PERA. He makes his case politically for his political future, not the well-being of retirees. Stand firm PERA, there are half a million retirees backing you, and ready to cast a NO VOTE for Stapleton the Treasure or Stapleton the Gov. or these proposed bills!

  49. Phil Helms says:

    SB 17-113 would prevent even the smallest increase in employer contribution rates after 2018. This would have the effect of putting PERA in a strait jacket with respect to contribution percentage increases after that year. On the other hand, allowing the percentages to grow indefinitely may result in unbearably high contribution levels at some point, conceivably resulting in a backlash that could harm or destroy PERA.

  50. John Paton says:

    With this politically motivated attack, yet again from Stapleton proves to me that even with this years election results that Colorado is in for yet another “do nothing, accomplish nothing” year from the elected members of “our” state government.

  51. N says:

    No one should have the right to see our PERA BENEFITS! We aren’t allowed to see senator or representatives or Govenors information why is it right for this to be openly given to them!? I mean I worked for the state for 13 years prior to my disability and still is no ones business but mine what my benefits are worth! No to this Legislation!! We have given up days of work to save our state from going under and done many things to keep it a float as we. Care is why we work as state employees to begin with and don’t usually make what others do in the private sector! When will the legislators start thanking us instead of take take taking away from us??? Fight for our rights please as our benefits are the only things keeping our homes our food etc for some of us is just barely enough to make it! Thanks!

  52. Susan says:

    Please oppose all of this legislation with fervor!

  53. Peg Vidakovich says:

    Definitely agree with a posture of opposition to this legislation.

  54. Judy says:

    I am tired of Walker Stapleton trying to use our PERA as a stepping stone to a political career. I agree that we all should vote against any politician who sponsors legislation that will hurt our retirement. I think we should all make sure that our esteemed treasurer never holds another office again.

  55. Jim says:

    This is definitely a political issue of office holders with higher political goals trying to get their grubby hands on the funds contributed by loyal, hard working public employees. As noted by others we all contributed both to PERA and Federal/State taxes. But we mostly provided our service to the citizens of Colorado. This legislation would, in my view, provide a potential for nothing good. He board and all members should oppose it.

  56. Thomas Nesler says:

    Republicans, and the Treasurer specifically have been striving to gain control of our pension fund and disempower our Board. They are obsessed with this objective. Retired and current state employees should be rightly outraged by this, and do what they can to build opposition thru their elected representatives, current and future.

  57. Trailsnet says:

    The writing is on the wall. The Republicans have been and will continue to be relentless about completely gutting our pension. We have seen what they are doing at the national level because too many people were complacent and either didn’t vote or listened to all the propaganda and “protest voted.”

    We absolutely can’t do that at the state level or they will eventually have their way, and our pension will disappear. this isn’t just gloom & doom prophecy. The writing is on the wall. They are gunning for our pensions & if they ever get a majority in both houses and or a Republican governor, you can kiss your pension goodbye.

  58. Greg Thiel says:

    Definitely agree with the above opposition to this legislation. I’m counting on PERA to fight this threat our retirement resources and privacy!
    REPLY

  59. John C. says:

    All four of these bill’s should be opposed by PERA, as they are intrusive and are not in the best interests of PERA members in the least.

  60. Guy Santo says:

    – – – A pox on both their houses and all these bills! – – –

    Partisianship which uses public employees as a cause celebre, and their pension funds as a personal piggy bank for elected represenatives’ pet projects, has grown so old and tiresome so by now even the most ardent Democrat or Republican should see through the General Assembly’s “divisive politics.”

    Hiding behind children seems to characterize the private vs. public school debate that villifies or glorifies public education. Likewise, public employees are often disparged as lazy and overpaid or patronized with the empty phrase, “Thank you for your service” (which by my reckoning should be reserved for combat veterans). Most importantly, budgetary hardships from the “great recession” are over and continuing pleas of poverty belie ongoing corporate subsidies handed out by the state (sorry Mr. Taratino, you didn’t need 5 million tax $ to film a movie here, that’s supose to take place in Wyoming anyway); new revenue streams (e.g., from taxing recreational marijuana and internet sales); and the explosion in revenues to many counties (due to increased property values reducing the need for state aid to many school districts, except for rich homeowners who occassionally rent a cow for their botique ranchettes to get an agricultral designation and not pay their fair share). In the alternative, if a drop in oil and gas extraction taxes is the cause for a lean budget, perhaps instead of lowering their taxes, we should revisit that idea of allowing many rural counties to suceed from the state as they once proposed when they felt ignored by a legislature and a governor elected from urban areas?

    I don’t think the legislature will propose more eqalitarian ways of raising revenue, such as eliminating or means testing the $100,000.00 homestead exemption from county tax assessments or the $20,000 to $24,000 pension exclusion from income taxes. Although the legislature could suspend or reduce those programs (as it has in the past, despite rewarding older voters that tend to vote more often and conservatively) before touching corporate welfare (campaign donors?); but the real issue is one of fairness; i.e., What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Unfortunately, the rehtoric of building a wall, repeeling Obamacare, and starting a trade war are just versions of the same old wedge issues that periodiaclly are used to divide us (along with the 3 G’s of God, Guns, & Gays).

    The politics of division are just too easy to resist while real solutions require research and hard work. Even a benign proposal to bring District Attorney’s staff into PERA, begs the question of which fund? The Judical fund is in the worst shape of all, but should local goverment or state funds pick up these high salary workers? Is it any wonder that all legislative proposals are suspect; given the draconian cut pensioners suffered under 2010’s SB-001, as condoned by PERA Staff and Democratic control, while ignoring the most simple and fiscally responsible measures, such as placing a cap on payments so that no future pension could exceed the highest benefit (that was being paid, at that time, over seven years ago!).

    My comments may just echo the feelings of many others in expressing frustration with a polarized system, easily exploited based upon everyone sincerely believing their gored ox is more important and treated worse than any other. Hence my disgust is with the legislature which fails to promote basic fairness and real shared sacrifice (not that slogan PERA staff used to rob pensioners of their COLAs)! In closing, it’s no surprise to me if the majority of Americans trust either (or both) Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump to provide better alternatives than the heretofore status quo…. Oh, and a pox on all these bills!

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