In this story:
- More than 3,000 PERA members and retirees took part in two town hall meetings
- Topics of discussion included PERA’s financials, state funding, investments, and Social Security
- Read summaries of questions/answers and view clips from the events
This year’s town hall meetings with PERA Executive Director Ron Baker and Chief Investment Officer Amy C. McGarrity, which featured new ways for members and retirees to connect, drew more than 3,000 live participants across the web, phone, and social media. Many more have since watched the events online.
The conversation centered on PERA’s recently released 2020 Annual Report but also touched on topics such as state funding, green energy investments, and Social Security.
Below is a summary of some of the questions and answers from the events. For full recordings of the town halls, visit copera.org/townhall.
How are PERA’s investments doing?
While 2020 was turbulent for investors, it ultimately was a strong year in the markets. PERA’s total fund return for the year was 17.4%. The 10-year annualized return is 9.4%. PERA’s funded ratio at the end of 2020 was 62.8%.
More information is available in PERA’s Annual Report.
What is PERA doing about the Windfall Elimination Provision and reductions in Social Security benefits?
Executive Director Ron Baker discussed PERA’s efforts to work with Colorado’s congressional delegation on this issue and the challenges with changing the WEP at the federal level. Watch the clip below for more:
Will member contributions be going up again?
Member contribution rates increased by 0.5% on July 1 for all members except those in the Local Government Division due to the scheduled increases established in 2018’s Senate Bill 200. This is the third and final year of the three-year phase-in of the 2% rate increase for member contributions.
In addition, because of changes to PERA’s liabilities (learn more about this here), the Automatic Adjustment Provision will go into effect next year. That means member contributions will increase by 0.5%, and the annual increase for benefit recipients will decrease by 0.25%, in July 2022.
“We understand how difficult that is to hear,” Baker said. “For our active members, that is more money out of your pocket, and for our benefit recipients, that is less money in your pocket in increases. The reason we need to do this is so we continue to have a strongly funded system.”
Will retirees receive an annual increase this year?
Yes, the Annual Increase (AI) paid in July 2021 will be 1.25% for most retirees. The AI amount for eligible PERA benefit structure retirees hired on or after January 1, 2007 will be 1.2%.
Did the state make its $225 million direct payment to PERA this year?
The state paid its $225 million direct distribution to PERA on July 1, 2021. While the direct distribution from 2020 will not be paid, the Legislature underscored its commitment to PERA and the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans by creating a cash fund to pay for future contributions to PERA.
Why doesn’t PERA divest from fossil fuels and invest in green energy instead?
PERA invests in a wide variety of asset types with the goal of securing the best possible risk-adjusted returns for its members. Hear more from Chief Investment Officer Amy C. McGarrity in the clip below:
I’m counting on PERA for my retirement income; do you have my back?
“This organization, and I think more importantly, the General Assembly, has your back,” Baker said. “The PERA Board absolutely has your back; they are members and also governor appointees. All of us in this organization work very diligently to ensure that we’ll be here for the long term as well.”
To watch the town hall events in full, visit copera.org/townhall.