Retirement insights from a Colorado PERA perspective

Legislation & Governance

State Lawmakers Pass Six PERA-Related Bills in 2024 Legislative Session

Golden Capitol Dome in Denver, Colorado
Photo credit: Takako Hatayama-Phillips/Getty Images

That’s a wrap—Colorado’s 2024 legislative session has come to an end.

Each session, legislators introduce hundreds of new bills, and it’s not unusual for some of them to pertain to PERA and its members. This year, lawmakers proposed nine PERA-related bills.

By the end of the session on May 8, six of those nine bills had passed and were either signed into law or will be sent to Gov. Jared Polis for action.

Below is a summary of the bills that passed. For information on the other proposed bills, click here.

Working after retirement

Lawmakers approved two bills that expand the number of PERA retirees who can return to work without a reduction in their benefits, both of which Gov. Polis signed into law.

Under current law, all PERA retirees may work up to 110 days or 720 hours per calendar year for one or more PERA employer(s) without a reduction in their retirement benefits. In addition to the 110 days for all retirees, employers in the School and Denver Public Schools (DPS) divisions, as well as each state college or university, can designate up to 10 retirees who are permitted to work up to 140 days or 916 hours per calendar year without reductions to their PERA benefits. House Bill 1044 will allow districts with more than 10,000 students to designate an additional retiree for each thousand students over 10,000.

Also, rural school districts can declare a critical shortage of qualified teachers, school bus drivers, food service workers, school nurses, or paraprofessionals and hire PERA retirees to fill those positions without having their retirement benefits reduced. Senate Bill 99 adds principals and superintendents to the list of qualified positions.

RELATED: Understanding the Financial Impact of Working After Retirement

Actuarial study

House Bill 1427 calls for the State Auditor, in cooperation with PERA, to enlist an independent actuarial firm experienced with public pensions to conduct a comprehensive study comparing the cost and effectiveness of the PERA Defined Benefit Plan to alternative plan designs, as well as providing an analysis of certain aspects of PERA current defined benefit and defined contribution plans.

As Colorado’s public workforce evolves, it’s important that Colorado PERA remain flexible enough to meet the membership’s changing needs. This study will help policymakers assess PERA’s continued value in recruiting and retaining a highly qualified public workforce in the years ahead.

READ MORE: Lawmakers Pass Bill to Refresh Study on Value of PERA’s Defined Benefit Plan

Other PERA provisions

Other bills that passed the Legislature made minor adjustments to PERA membership provisions by expanding the definition of “State Trooper” for the purpose of PERA benefits.

Senate Bill 169 expands the definition of State Trooper for the purpose of PERA benefits to include duly sworn employees of the Division of Fire Prevention and Control in the Department of Public Safety whose duties include structural or wildfire management, wildfire response, live-fire training, or wildfire leadership, as determined by the executive director of the department.

Senate Bill 186 expands the definition of State Trooper for the purpose of PERA benefits to include county coroners and deputy coroners.

Another bill, Senate Bill 13, seeks to establish salary parity among publicly funded lawyers in the criminal justice system. The introduced version of the bill also included a provision related to PERA, but this was removed from the final bill passed by the Legislature.

Defined benefitAlso known as a pension, this is a type of pooled retirement plan in which the plan promises to pay a lifetime benefit to the employee at retirement. The plan manages investments on behalf of members, and the retirement benefit is based on factors such as age at retirement, years of employment and salary history.Defined benefitAlso known as a pension, this is a type of pooled retirement plan in which the plan promises to pay a lifetime benefit to the employee at retirement. The plan manages investments on behalf of members, and the retirement benefit is based on factors such as age at retirement, years of employment and salary history.Defined contributionA type of individual retirement plan in which an employee saves a portion of each paycheck (along with a potential employer match) and invests that money. The employee’s retirement benefit is based on their account balance at retirement. A 401(k) is a type of defined contribution plan.


  1. Mark James says:

    listen to retirees and their continued concerns about the inadequate PERA Annual Increase (AI). The current AI results in a slow, painful death to a retiree’s pension due to inflation erosion. Retirees have been asking the PERA Board and PERS leadership to fix the inadequate AI for years and we are just ignored. Current PERA employees are getting annual raises which will increase their pension benefit and these increases help keep up with inflation. However, retirees don’t have the benefit of going back to work during our old-age years so our standard of living continues to decline. Mr. Roth, I pray that you will listen to current retirees and partner with them to fix the AI.

    • Pixel Chi says:

      PERA needs another funding source to augment the current employee-employer funding mechanism. The state legislature works overtime to create new fees for pet social/transit/sales delivery programs. How about a fee to help PERA?

    • Mike Zgainer says:

      Spot on and so true. PERA has been lacking in support of retirees in the legislature. This letter is very important to highlighting how retirees purchase power has decreased and after all we are consumers and travelers.

      Please, PERA help retirees get more than 1% per year cola. It is depressing!

  2. Krishna Murthy says:

    PERA annual cost of living increase is very little. I live in Sunnyvale, California, which has one of the highest coast of living. The annual gain that PERA makes on investments is over 7%, but the COLA increase is dismal 1/2 to 1%. Please increase the COLA to at least 2%. Thanks

    • David Eick says:

      I agree. It is time for them to look at this and make more realistic adjustments, as my cost of living is up 10% since I retired in 2021, and I have had to go back to work part time to afford to be “retired”.

  3. Roger Brisnehan says:

    PERA is supposed to be comparable to and a replacement for social security for Colorado employees. Social security also doesn’t increase at the actual increase in inflation, but at least it’s not held to an artificial low.

  4. Eric "Ric" Rogers says:

    the COLA need to be addressed! 1% is hardly adequate in time of lower inflation and cause a serious reduction in to ability to keep up when inflation is even moderate.

  5. Mary Beth Nagle says:

    I also am sick and tired of watching my income actually decline each year. I
    have had to go into debt because after I pay my normal bills, I don’t have
    enough money to make it through the month. The 1 % increase is just shameful!

  6. Bob T says:

    Do you know how many people live on way less than our PERA payment and would love to have what we have? Be happy that you have a retirement plan. Hopefully all of you did an IRA or TSA to supplement your retirement. Keep PERA solvent and keep the 1% coming until we can up it. I’m thankful we have what we have!

    • Stuart Ford says:

      Amen to that

    • Barry Thorpe says:

      Don’t be part of the problem Bob. PERA and the State of Colorado are Flush with enough money to pay a decent COLA.
      And furthermore, it’s not even a matter of sufficient money. Its a matter if contractual obligations, clearly set forth in the documents I used to plan my retirement. The exact wording “ Guaranteed annual increase at 3.5%” No hedging, no mention of changing, especially DOWNWARD !!
      Support your peers or get out of the way. A 1% increase this year alone represents a2% deficit measured against inflation. PERA owes its end of the bargain. I agreed, and they agreed 3.5% guaranteed. PERA is simply in default.

      • Bob T says:

        Again I say “Be grateful “. We are blessed to have what we have

        • Barry Thorpe says:

          One is “grateful” for good fortune, or for gifts bestowed upon them.
          One need not feel gratitude for receiving the salary they earned.

          Perhaps you were the kind of employee that felt your salary was a gift, or good fortune. Perhaps you don’t feel you earned what was contracted. OR, perhaps “grateful” doesn’t mean what you think it means.

          I earned my salary, I have a right to expect remuneration under the conditions I was offered. These were not my demands, or requests. These were the salaries and benefits put in place by PERA, and subsequently taken away AFTER becoming fully vested.

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