The first leg of PERAtour, PERA’s statewide outreach initiative, concluded just last week.
During the inaugural leg of this two-part community engagement effort (the second phase of which will commence in the fall), PERA held 12 meetings in nine cities throughout Colorado, bringing together close to 1,000 PERA members, retirees, employers, and interested citizens in a factual dialogue about PERA’s current funded status and risk profile. The feedback gathered from these conversations, as well as ideas from policymakers and other stakeholders, will be consolidated and reviewed by the PERA Board of Trustees to inform any deliberations about changes to the PERA plan design. (If you were not able to attend an in-person meeting, there is still time to have your voice heard. Visit www.peratour.org to submit your comments, explore the issues being discussed, view a narrated version of the presentation shared at all community events, and follow the five-phase journey PERA is undertaking.)
PERA gleaned a number of valuable insights over the course of PERAtour, particularly on the principles and priorities members and retirees consider most pivotal to the PERA Board’s assessment of possible actions to take. The range of voices heard throughout the outreach effort also unveiled some central themes – communal attitudes, beliefs, perspectives – that are explored in further detail on the PERAtour site. Some of those include:
- PERA beneficiaries demonstrate a deep commitment to public service, as well as an ability to rally together to make decisions for the greater good. As one participant in Denver put it, “People choose to work in this sector because they enjoy giving service to our state. Our beloved Colorado benefits from all of us in public service.”
- With the shifting demographics of today’s workforce, it is more important than ever for PERA to remain attractive to a new generation of employees. One of the most important ways that participants feel PERA can engage with younger public service workers? Educate them about their retirement benefits. All too often, younger employees are simply unaware of the defined benefit plan.
- While many of PERA’s beneficiaries have dedicated a substantial part—if not all—of their careers to public service, PERA should also benefit employees who spend less time in the system. Thanks to PERA’s hybrid defined benefit plan design, it does. (You can read more about this feature here.)
These themes reflect just some of the learnings PERA’s community outreach effort has afforded thus far. Given the significant footprint of PERA across the state, it is important for a variety of voices to be involved in the conversation about potential changes that will ensure PERA continues to be a sustainable retirement plan for Colorado’s public employees.