February 6, 2014 Updated: February 6, 2014 at 7:25 am
State Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, has proposed bills dealing with the Public Employees' Retirement Association almost every year he's been a lawmaker, and this year is no exception.
"It's important to have a dialogue on the solvency of the PERA system so that its members and the public are aware of the shortfalls it faces," Lambert said.
His latest proposal - to increase PERA's retirement age to 65 - went down in flames Wednesday in a committee hearing.
The vote in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee was 4-1.
Lambert's bill sought to increase the retirement age to 65 and require 30 years of service before retiring for new hires starting with those hired in 2017. Lambert said the average retirement age among PERA recipients is 58.
Lambert's bill would have reduced the public pension fund's unfunded liability $1.3 billion by 2046.
Those kinds of cuts to a retirement program would have big impacts on the retirement of thousands of Coloradans.
Greg Smith, executive director of PERA, said the board of trustees for the retirement system voted unanimously to oppose the bill.
Smith said if increasing the retirement age in PERA is something that needs to be looked at, it should be done in a comprehensive manner, like the negotiations that took place in 2010 around Senate Bill 1.
SB1 made strides to reduce PERA's unfunded liability by reducing benefits paid to existing retirees, increasing contributions from employers and employees and reducing future benefits.
"This really undermines the total compromise we reached in that bill," Smith said.
Sen. Bernie Herpin, R-Colorado Springs, voted against the bill.
"I certainly want to ensure that PERA remains solvent and we can make commitments that we have made." Herpin said.
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