Gold Dome, PERA, Politics, Taxes

Treasurer Stapleton criticizes proposed $1.1-Billion education tax

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton doled out heavy criticism for an education funding measure recently unveiled in the Colorado Senate.  “I think that this the single most important policy issue that I’ve faced since becoming treasurer,” Stapleton said on Wednesday’s “Mike Rosen Show” on 850 KOA.

The bill (full draft language here), sponsored by Senator Mike Johnston, D-Denver, is estimated to raise an additional $1.1-billion annually in new tax revenues.  Even if the bill were passed and signed by the Governor, taxpayers in Colorado would have final say on the bill later this year at the ballot box, because of legal provisions within Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR).

In particular, Stapleton was critical that the 144-page bill made no mention of the state’s pension plan, the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, or PERA. Most teachers in the state are enrolled under PERA.

“In my mind, you cannot talk about education reform and school reform without talking about reform of our pension system. And we need to make sure that if we’re actually going to Colorado’s taxpayers, and asking them to put more revenue into what taxpayers believe will be our schools and our classrooms, that the money actually winds up in the schools and the classrooms and that it does not get diverted to backfill obligations to an unsustainable retirement system that we’ve created in this state,” Stapleton said. (These remarks at minute 5:40 of the audio.)

Listen to the full interview with Mike Rosen here:

PERA has been an ongoing fight for Treasurer Stapleton, as he has repeatedly warned about the unfunded liabilities of the system, and some of the actuarial and investment assumptions that are made by the pension.

For more information:

Treasurer calls 1.9% PERA return a ‘serious warning sign’

State Treasurer wants to tie reform of PERA to education

Vincent Carroll: Status quo for PERA board

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