Difference between revisions of "Public pensions in Colorado"

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The following data was collected from the PERA and FPPA 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, which measured fund status as of December 31, 2012.
 
The following data was collected from the PERA and FPPA 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, which measured fund status as of December 31, 2012.
  
The "percentage funded" is calculated by taking the current value of the fund and dividing by the estimated amount of total liabilities. The assumed rates of return used to calculate current fund value vary by system (see [[Colorado public pensions#Rate of return|"Rate of return"]] below for more information). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Pew Research Centers cite a percent funded ratio of 80 percent as the minimum threshold for a healthy fund, though the American Academy of Actuaries suggests that all pension systems "have a strategy in place to attain or maintain a funded status of 100 percent or greater."<ref>[http://www.gao.gov/assets/270/267150.pdf ''United States Government Accountability Office Report to the Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate'' "State and Local Government Retiree Benefits: Current Status of Benefit Structures, Protections, and Fiscal Outlook for Funding Future Costs," September 2007. Accessed October 23, 2013]</ref><ref>[http://www.actuary.org/files/80_Percent_Funding_IB_071912.pdf ''American Academy of Actuaries'', "Issue Brief: The 80% Pension Funding Standard Myth," July 2012. Accessed October 23, 2013]</ref> The column labeled "SBS figure" refers to a market liability calculation of the fund by the nonprofit organization State Budget Solutions. This analysis uses a rate of return of 3.225 percent, which is based upon the 15-year Treasury bond yield. The organization calls this a "risk-free" rate of return that would make it easier for states to achieve their pension funding requirements in the future. Since 2006, all private sector corporate pension plans have incorporated market costs into their funding schemes.<ref>[http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/gov-plot-against-pensions-report.html ''Governing Magazine'' " Is There a Plot Against Pensions?" October 14, 2013]</ref>
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The "percentage funded" is calculated by taking the current value of the fund and dividing by the estimated amount of total liabilities. The assumed rates of return used to calculate current fund value vary by system (see [[Colorado public pensions#Rate of return|"Rate of return"]] below for more information). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Pew Research Centers cite a percent funded ratio of 80 percent as the minimum threshold for a healthy fund, though the American Academy of Actuaries suggests that all pension systems "have a strategy in place to attain or maintain a funded status of 100 percent or greater."<ref>[http://www.gao.gov/assets/270/267150.pdf ''United States Government Accountability Office Report to the Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate'', "State and Local Government Retiree Benefits: Current Status of Benefit Structures, Protections, and Fiscal Outlook for Funding Future Costs," September 2007. Accessed October 23, 2013]</ref><ref>[http://www.actuary.org/files/80_Percent_Funding_IB_071912.pdf ''American Academy of Actuaries'', "Issue Brief: The 80% Pension Funding Standard Myth," July 2012. Accessed October 23, 2013]</ref> The column labeled "SBS figure" refers to a market liability calculation of the fund by the nonprofit organization State Budget Solutions. This analysis uses a rate of return of 3.225 percent, which is based upon the 15-year Treasury bond yield. The organization calls this a "risk-free" rate of return that would make it easier for states to achieve their pension funding requirements in the future. Since 2006, all private sector corporate pension plans have incorporated market costs into their funding schemes.<ref>[http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/gov-plot-against-pensions-report.html ''Governing Magazine'', " Is There a Plot Against Pensions?" October 14, 2013]</ref>
  
 
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'''Moody's report on adjusted pension liabilities'''
 
'''Moody's report on adjusted pension liabilities'''
  
On June 27, 2013, Moody's Investor Service released its report on adjusted pension liabilities in the states.  The Moody's report ranked states "based on ratios measuring the size of their adjusted net pension liabilities (ANPL) relative to several measures of economic capacity." In its calculations of net pension liabilities, Moody's employed market-determined discount rates (4.40 percent for Colorado) instead of the state-reported assumed rates of return (8 percent for Colorado's largest pension plan).<ref name=moodys>[http://www.ncsl.org/documents/summit/summit2013/online-resources/Moody-Adjusted-Pension-Liability-Medians.pdf ''Moody's Investor Service'' "Adjusted Pension Liability Medians for US States," June 27, 2013]</ref>
+
On June 27, 2013, Moody's Investor Service released its report on adjusted pension liabilities in the states.  The Moody's report ranked states "based on ratios measuring the size of their adjusted net pension liabilities (ANPL) relative to several measures of economic capacity." In its calculations of net pension liabilities, Moody's employed market-determined discount rates (4.40 percent for Colorado) instead of the state-reported assumed rates of return (8 percent for Colorado's largest pension plan).<ref name=moodys>[http://www.ncsl.org/documents/summit/summit2013/online-resources/Moody-Adjusted-Pension-Liability-Medians.pdf ''Moody's Investor Service'', "Adjusted Pension Liability Medians for US States," June 27, 2013]</ref>
  
 
The report's authors found that adjusted net pension liabilities varied dramatically from state to state, from 6.8  percent ([[Nebraska public pensions|Nebraska]]) to 241 percent ([[Illinois public pensions|Illinois]]) of governmental revenues in fiscal year 2011.<ref name=moodys/>
 
The report's authors found that adjusted net pension liabilities varied dramatically from state to state, from 6.8  percent ([[Nebraska public pensions|Nebraska]]) to 241 percent ([[Illinois public pensions|Illinois]]) of governmental revenues in fiscal year 2011.<ref name=moodys/>

Revision as of 07:44, 8 May 2014

Colorado public pensions
Flag of Colorado.png
Pension System
Number of pension systems 2
State pension systems: Public Employees' Retirement Association
Fire and Police Pension Association
System type: Defined benefit plan; hybrid; defined contribution
Pension Health (2012)[1]
Fund Value: $40,915,701,937
Estimated liabilities: $63,707,488,949
Unfunded liabilities : $22,791,787,012
Percent funded: 64.22%
Percent funded change: Green Arrow Up Darker.svg1.96%[2]
Percent funded rank: 35[3]
Pension Fund Members (2012)
Total Members: 517,481
Active Members: 214,788
Other Members: 302,693
Other State Pension Information
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Policypedia
Policypedia pension logo.jpg
Pension Policy
Public pensions
State public pension plans
Public pension health by state
Colorado public pensions are the state mechanism by which state and many local government employees in Colorado receive retirement benefits. The Public Employees' Retirement Association of Colorado administers state pension benefits. PERA members include state employees, public school teachers, many university and college employees, judges, state troopers, and the employees of many political subdivisions and other governmental entities.[4] PERA provides both defined benefit and defined contribution plan options. PERA is comprised of five separate pension funds: the School Division, the State Division, the Local Government Division, the Judicial Division and the Denver Public Schools Division.[4] The Fire and Police Pension Association of Colorado administers pension benefits for the state's police and fire personnel.[5]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state also has 65 locally-administered pension systems.[6]

A 2012 report from the Pew Center on the States noted that Colorado's pension system was funded at 66 percent at the close of fiscal year 2010, well below the 80 percent funding level experts recommend. Consequently, Pew designated the state's pension system as cause for "serious concern."[7]

Taken together, the funding ratio for the state's pension systems decreased from 75.99 percent in fiscal year 2007 to 64.22 percent in fiscal year 2012, an 11.77 percent drop. Likewise, unfunded liabilities increased from just under $13 billion in fiscal year 2007 to nearly $22.8 billion in fiscal year 2012.

Features

Pension plans

In fiscal year 2012, according to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports for PERA and FPPA, Colorado had a total of 214,788 active members in its retirement plans. Our membership figures divide plan participants into two broad categories: active and other. Active members are current employees contributing to the pension system. Other members include retirees, beneficiaries and other inactive plan participants (usually terminated employees entitled to benefits but not yet receiving them).[8]

The following data was collected from the PERA and FPPA 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, which measured fund status as of December 31, 2012.

The "percentage funded" is calculated by taking the current value of the fund and dividing by the estimated amount of total liabilities. The assumed rates of return used to calculate current fund value vary by system (see "Rate of return" below for more information). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Pew Research Centers cite a percent funded ratio of 80 percent as the minimum threshold for a healthy fund, though the American Academy of Actuaries suggests that all pension systems "have a strategy in place to attain or maintain a funded status of 100 percent or greater."[9][10] The column labeled "SBS figure" refers to a market liability calculation of the fund by the nonprofit organization State Budget Solutions. This analysis uses a rate of return of 3.225 percent, which is based upon the 15-year Treasury bond yield. The organization calls this a "risk-free" rate of return that would make it easier for states to achieve their pension funding requirements in the future. Since 2006, all private sector corporate pension plans have incorporated market costs into their funding schemes.[11]

Basic Pension Plan Information -- Colorado
Plans Current value Percentage funded Unfunded liabilities Membership
State figure SBS figure[12] State figure SBS figure[12]
Public Employees' Retirement Association[13] $39,079,472,000 63.25% N/A[14] $22,711,123,000 N/A[14] 196,435 active members
Fire and Police Pension Association[15] $1,836,229,937 95.79% $80,664,012 18,353 active members
TOTALS $40,915,701,937 64.22% 33% $22,791,787,012 $83,822,914,000 214,788 active members

Annual Required Contribution

Annual Required Contributions (ARC) are calculated annually and are a sum of two different costs. The first component is the "normal cost," or what the employer owes to the system in order to support the liabilities gained in the previous year of service. The second component is an additional payment in order to make up for previous liabilities that have not yet been paid for. According to a report by the Pew Center on the States, in 2010 Colorado paid 66 percent of its annual required contribution.[16]

On June 25, 2012, the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) approved a plan to reform the accounting rules for state and local pension funds. These revised standards were set to take effect in fiscal years 2013 and 2014.[17] As a result, ARCs were removed as a reporting requirement. Instead, plan administrators and accountants will use an actuarially determined contribution or a statutory contribution for reporting purposes.[18]

ARC Historical Data - Public Employee's Retirement Association[13]
Fiscal year State Division School Division Local Government Division Judicial Division Denver Public Schools Division
Annual Required Contribution (ARC) Percentage contributed Annual Required Contribution (ARC) Percentage contributed Annual Required Contribution (ARC) Percentage contributed Annual Required Contribution (ARC) Percentage contributed Annual Required Contribution (ARC) Percentage contributed
2012 $393,991,000 83% $672,156,000 84% $51,267,000 163% $7,137,000 82% $49,044,000 27%
2011 $326,274,000 85% $601,138,000 89% $64,492,000 139% $6,362,000 84% $58,620,000 20%
2010 $452,821,000 62% $731,374,000 70% $86,818,000 101% $6,970,000 80% $68,780,000 8%
2009 $426,999,000 69% $649,512,000 73% $78,548,000 106% $6,419,000 90% N/A N/A
2008 $437,537,000 61% $653,686,000 65% $85,909,000 91% $6,346,000 80% N/A N/A

Historical funding levels

Historical pension plan data - all systems[13][15]
Year Value of assets Accrued liability Unfunded liability Funded ratio
2007 $40,758,466,808 $53,638,442,411 $12,879,975,603 75.99%
2008 $40,360,289,598 $56,949,938,331 $16,589,648,733 70.87%
2009 $38,974,614,434 $55,948,596,486 $16,973,982,052 69.66%
2010 $40,746,282,940 $60,899,393,659 $20,153,110,719 66.91%
2011 $38,861,133,729 $62,412,687,261 $23,551,553,532 62.26%
Change from 2007-2011 -$1,897,333,079 $8,774,244,850 $10,671,577,929 -13.72%

Rate of return

In November 2013, PERA voted to lower its expectations on investments from 8 to 7.5 percent. Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton estimated that the change would increase the unfunded liability by $6 billion. Stapleton had previously advocated for lowering the rate of return, while warning of the likelihood of a fund collapse.[19] The vote passed narrowly, 8-7.[20]

PERA previously presumed an 8.0 percent return rate on its pension investments in 2012.[13] For the five funds noted in this article, FPPA presumed a 7.5 percent rate of return on pension investments.[15]

Analysis

Percent Funded Status of Pension Plans
in the 50 States as of November 2013
Public pensions in NevadaPublic pensions in MassachusettsPublic pensions in ColoradoPublic pensions in New MexicoPublic pensions in WyomingPublic pensions in ArizonaPublic pensions in MontanaPublic pensions in CaliforniaPublic pensions in OregonPublic pensions in WashingtonPublic pensions in IdahoPublic pensions in TexasPublic pensions in OklahomaPublic pensions in KansasPublic pensions in NebraskaPublic pensions in South DakotaPublic pensions in North DakotaPublic pensions in MinnesotaPublic pensions in IowaPublic pensions in MissouriPublic pensions in ArkansasPublic pensions in LouisianaPublic pensions in MississippiPublic pensions in AlabamaPublic pensions in GeorgiaPublic pensions in FloridaPublic pensions in South CarolinaPublic pensions in IllinoisPublic pensions in WisconsinPublic pensions in TennesseePublic pensions in North CarolinaPublic pensions in IndianaPublic pensions in OhioPublic pensions in KentuckyPublic pensions in PennsylvaniaPublic pensions in New JerseyPublic pensions in New YorkPublic pensions in VermontPublic pensions in VermontPublic pensions in New HampshirePublic pensions in MainePublic pensions in West VirginiaPublic pensions in VirginiaPublic pensions in MarylandPublic pensions in MarylandPublic pensions in ConnecticutPublic pensions in ConnecticutPublic pensions in DelawarePublic pensions in DelawarePublic pensions in Rhode IslandPublic pensions in Rhode IslandPublic pensions in MassachusettsPublic pensions in New HampshirePublic pensions in MichiganPublic pensions in MichiganPublic pensions in AlaskaPolicypediaPension Health 2013.png
Note: The data in this map was compiled from state CAFR reports and Actuarial Valuation documents. Figures reflect a combination of all of the state pension plans.
Funded Ratio of State Public Pension Plans as compiled by State Budget Solutions

According to a 2012 analysis by the Pew Center for the States, most state pension plans assume an 8 percent rate of return on investments.[21] Critics assert that this assumption is unrealistic, citing changing market conditions and significantly lower investment returns across the board over the past several years.[22] When states lower the rate of return in an effort to accurately predict investment earnings, it increases the current plan liabilities, thereby lowering the percent funded ratio and causing the ARC to increase. This is because future plan liabilities are discounted based on the rate of return, so smaller expected investment returns result in larger actuarially accrued liabilities.[23] For example, on September 21, 2012, the Illinois Teachers Retirement System voted to lower its rate of return from 8.5 percent to 8.0 percent. This change increased the state's fiscal year 2014 ARC from $3.07 billion to $3.36 billion.[24] Similarly, when California's CalPERS reduced its projected annual rate of return from 7.75 percent to 7.5 percent in March 2012, it cost the state an additional $303 million for fiscal year 2013.[25]

The 2008 financial crisis had a devastating effect on pension plans nationwide and has resulted in slower economic growth and increased market volatility. In light of this, some market strategists find the 8 percent assumption to be overly ambitious. Stanford University Finance Professor Joshua Rauh stated that using past investment performance in this economic climate was "dangerously optimistic."[26] Advocates for a lower assumed rate of return argue that the standard assumptions could cause pension fund managers to engage in more risky investments and imprudent stewardship of public funds. Further, if pension plans were using more conservative assumptions, such as the 3 or 4 percent assumed rate of return used in the private sector, and the plans grew more quickly than expected, the fund would have a surplus and smaller future ARCs, which would be preferable to using optimistic assumptions and potentially being caught with larger-than-expected deficits.[27][28][29][30][31]

On the other hand, traditional public pension plan advocates argue that the dip observed in recent years is not sufficient proof of a long-term, downward trend in investment returns. According to Chris Hoene, executive director at the California Budget Project, "The problem with [the market rate] argument is there isn’t significant evidence other than the short term blip during the economic crisis that there’s been that shift. It’s a speculative argument coming out of a very deep recession."[26]

The National Association of State Retirement Administrators compiled data on the median annualized rate of return for public pensions for the 1-, 3-, 5-, 10-, 20-, and 25-year periods ending in 2013. While the median annualized rate of return failed to meet the 8 percent assumption that most public pensions assume over the 5- and 10-year periods, it was just shy (7.9 percent) over the 20-year period, and it exceeded 8 percent for the 1-, 3-, and 25-year periods. It is important to note that the NASRA data is reporting the median returns, indicating that even though median annualized returns exceeded 8 percent in the 25-year period, the investment portfolios for half of the examined public pension funds failed to meet an 8 percent assumed rate of return.[32]

In September 2013, the nonprofit organization State Budget Solutions published an analysis of state pension funding levels. In its calculations, State Budget Solutions used a 3.2 percent rate of return, the 15-year Treasury bond yield as of August 21, 2013, to discount plan liabilities.

The research found that, all states combined, state public employee pension plans have only 39 percent of the assets they need to cover their promised payments—a $4.1 trillion gap. According to the report, Colorado's public pension plans were 33% funded, making it the 36th most funded state.[33]

Moody's report on adjusted pension liabilities

On June 27, 2013, Moody's Investor Service released its report on adjusted pension liabilities in the states. The Moody's report ranked states "based on ratios measuring the size of their adjusted net pension liabilities (ANPL) relative to several measures of economic capacity." In its calculations of net pension liabilities, Moody's employed market-determined discount rates (4.40 percent for Colorado) instead of the state-reported assumed rates of return (8 percent for Colorado's largest pension plan).[34]

The report's authors found that adjusted net pension liabilities varied dramatically from state to state, from 6.8 percent (Nebraska) to 241 percent (Illinois) of governmental revenues in fiscal year 2011.[34]

The adjusted net pension liability for PERA's State Division Trust Fund in fiscal year 2011 was ranked the 12th highest in the nation.[34] The following table presents key state-specific findings from the Moody's report, as well as the state's national rank with respect to each indicator.

Adjusted net pension liabilities (ANPL) relative to key economic indicators - Colorado
Governmental revenue* Personal income State GDP Per capita
State findings 117.5% 9.0% 7.7% $3,975
National ranking 7th 16th 18th 15th
*Moody's uses governmental revenues as reported in each state's consolidated annual financial reports; this includes not only state-generated revenue, but federal funds, as well.[34]

Reforms

Proposed reforms

2013

While two bills relevant to the administration of the state pension system were proposed during the 2013 regular session of the Colorado General Assembly, neither made it past committee.[35]

2012

Several bills relevant to the administration of the state's pension system were proposed during the 2012 regular session of the General Assembly, but none passed committee.[36]

Local public pensions

See also: Local government public pensions

According to the United States Census Bureau, the state has 65 locally-administered pension plans.[6]

Transparency

See also: Public pension disclosure and Governmental Accounting Standards Board
  • Pension fund investment performance data is available on the PERA website.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag
  • Pension lobbying information is available. Colorado PERA is spending up to $2.2 million annually on attorneys’ fees, $364,000 on lobbying and $2.8 million in salaries for its dozen top-paid executives.[37]
  • Pay to play (the practice of investment managers contributing to officials with influence over public pension fund decisions) information is unavailable.

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Colorado + public + pensions"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Colorado Public Pensions News Feed

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See also

External links

References

  1. Figures below are compiled by adding up all state pension plans
  2. This figure is derived by calculating the percent difference between the current year's funding level and the system's percent funded from the prior year.
  3. Rank is relative to the 50 state pension programs. "1" refers to the healthiest pension plan while "50" would be the least well-funded plan.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Public Employees' Retirement Association of Colorado, "About PERA," accessed October 31, 2013
  5. Fire and Police Pension Association of Colorado, "About Us," accessed October 31, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 “Public Employee Retirement Systems State- and Locally-Administered Pensions Summary Report: 2010,” United States Census Bureau, April 30, 2012
  7. Pew Center on the States "Widening Gap Update: Colorado," June 18, 2012
  8. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, "Pensions Glossary," accessed November 27, 2013
  9. United States Government Accountability Office Report to the Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate, "State and Local Government Retiree Benefits: Current Status of Benefit Structures, Protections, and Fiscal Outlook for Funding Future Costs," September 2007. Accessed October 23, 2013
  10. American Academy of Actuaries, "Issue Brief: The 80% Pension Funding Standard Myth," July 2012. Accessed October 23, 2013
  11. Governing Magazine, " Is There a Plot Against Pensions?" October 14, 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1 State Budget Solutions, "Promises Made, Promises Broken - The Betrayal of Pensioners and Taxpayers," accessed September 20, 2013
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 Public Employees' Retirement Association of Colorado, "2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report," accessed October 31, 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 Analysis only available for system totals and not individual funds.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Fire and Police Pension Association of Colorado, "2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report," accessed October 31, 2013
  16. Government Accounting Standards Board, "Annual Required Contribution (ARC)," accessed October 17, 2013
  17. Reuters, "Little-known U.S. board stokes hot pension debate," July 10, 2012
  18. State Budget Solutions, "GASB's ineffective public pension reporting standards set to take effect," June 5, 2013
  19. Miami Herald, "Colorado state pension fund lowers expectations," November 15, 2013
  20. Denver Post, "Colorado PERA lowers investment expectation to 7.5 percent return," November 15, 2013
  21. "The Widening Gap Update,” Pew Center on the States, accessed October 17, 2013
  22. The New York Times "Public Pensions Faulted for Bets on Rosy Returns," May 27, 2012
  23. Benefits Magazine "Public Pension Funding 101: Key Terms and Concepts," April 2013. accessed October 23, 2013
  24. Crain's Chicago Business "State teachers pension board lowers expected rate of return," September 21, 2013. accessed October 23, 2013
  25. Huffington Post "California Pension Funds Expect Lower Investment Return," March 14, 2012. accessed October 23, 2013
  26. 26.0 26.1 Governing "Expert: Governments Are Masking Their Pension Liabilities ," October 25, 2013. accessed October 25, 2013
  27. The Washington Post "Kansas’s pension funding gap just grew by $1 billion," September 6, 2013. accessed October 25, 2013
  28. Topeka Capital-Journal "KPERS' unfunded liability rises to $10.2B," September 4, 2013. accessed October 25, 2013
  29. Wall Street Journal "Pensions Wrestle With Return Rates," October 10, 2011. accessed October 23, 2013
  30. The Courant "Promising Too Much On Public Pensions," August 10, 2012. accessed October 23, 2013
  31. Business Wire "NCPERS 2013 Survey: Public Pension Plans Report Increasing Confidence, Lower Costs, Growing Returns," October 22, 2013. accessed October 25, 2013
  32. National Association of State Retirement Administrators "Issue Brief: Public Pension Plan Investment Return Assumptions," October 2013. accessed October 23, 2013
  33. State Budget Solutions, "Promises Made, Promises Broken - The Betrayal of Pensioners and Taxpayers," accessed September 20, 2013
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 Moody's Investor Service, "Adjusted Pension Liability Medians for US States," June 27, 2013
  35. Public Employees' Retirement Association of Colorado, "Legislation Impacting Colorado PERA - May 2013," accessed October 31, 2013
  36. Public Employees' Retirement Association of Colorado, "Legislation Impacting Colorado PERA - June 2012," accessed October 31, 2013
  37. Public Employees' Retirement Association of Colorado, "Issues," accessed November 5, 2013