Vail Daily letter: Valuable system
Ryan Summerlin May 1, 2014
I am writing in response to the April 26 article “Where’d the money go? Stapleton wants to know.”
I spent nearly 40 years working hard for our kids here in Eagle County, so I have a significant interest in information concerning the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA). In researching PERA, I’ve learned that every year, just under $3.5 billion is distributed to retired teachers, snowplow drivers and others who help make Colorado a great place to live, with almost $11 million coming to retirees in Eagle County every year, every month, regardless of the climate or the season. Whether you’re in the Eagle Valley, or anywhere along the I-70 corridor, you probably know or are related to a working PERA member or a retiree. What you might not know is they are most likely not eligible for Social Security, and PERA serves as a replacement for that program.
Like a lot of businesses, investors, and individuals, PERA’s investments were hurt in the market collapse in 2008. Fortunately, the PERA board worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce a landmark set of reforms passed and signed into law in 2010. Those reforms make the system sustainable, not just for retirees like me, but for the teacher who just started at Eagle County School District, or the I-70 snowplow driver who is decades from retiring. I consider PERA one of Colorado’s best investments, and I’m glad it will continue to provide a secure retirement to those who choose to enter into public service.