Panel votes to ease PERA income limits

DENVER — Despite opposition from the state’s largest public employees retirement plan, a House committee Wednesday approved a bill designed to help rural parts of the state recruit more teachers.

Under current law, restrictions on how much money retirees under the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association prevent them from taking even part-time jobs, said the two main sponsors of the bill, Reps. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, and Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan.

Under HB1176, those restrictions would be loosened to help encourage retired government workers who decide to return to the workforce full time in public schools if they choose while still receiving retirement benefits.

“Rural schools need this help,” McLachlan told the House Finance Committee, which approved the bill on an 11-1 vote.

“Retired teachers willing to get back into the classroom can be an invaluable asset to schools struggling to find qualified teachers,” Becker added. “This legislation simply modifies Colorado’s laws to ensure retired teachers, bus drivers and food service personnel will be able to work full time in the rural schools that need their help.”

While the PERA board of directors said it supported the concept, it opposed the bill for fear it might worsen its ability to keep its retirement plans solvent.

In a related matter, the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee killed on a 6-3 party-line vote Wednesday a Republican measure designed to alter the makeup of the PERA board.

One of three bills pushed by Treasurer Walker Stapleton, SB158 would have required that three more people serve on the 15-member PERA board who are not beneficiaries of the plan, and that at least two other board members who are beneficiaries be 20 years or more away from retirement. The panel already has three non-beneficiaries.

It was the last of the three measures to die. The others, SB113, would have capped employer contributions, and HB1114, would have given Stapleton access to certain PERA records. All three bills were killed in the same House committee.


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