GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Colorado is about to become the first state to cut retiree benefits.
It's a strategy to prevent the Public Employees Retirement Association, PERA, from going broke. One that will affect many people.
Between current retirees, people working toward their pension or people who have money invested in PERA, but no longer work for it, in all 450,000 people will be affected by this overhaul.
Former District 51 School Administrator Jim Haptonstall is one of them. He says he will lose 1.5 percent from his retiree benefits, but says he's still happy with the Senate's changes to the PERA reform.
"I'm very much in favor of what has happened so far. The original recommendation from the PERA board would have caused there to be no cost of living allowance for a long time," he says.
Haptonstall says the new bill, if passed by the House, will at least give retirees a cost of living after 2010.
Haptonstall was a school administrator for 30 years and he's also a PERA Ambassador. He says this overhaul was necessary to keep PERA going for years to come.
"It's just going to be one of those things you're going to have to suck up and say 'Hey, it's not as good as we had, but it's still better than what could have been," he says.
Some predictions suggest if PERA didn't make these changes, the association would go broke in 20 years. The new plan will save the association $80 million. In return, retirees won't get a cost of living increase this year, like the 3.5 percent increase they normally receive.
Next year they would get the lesser of inflation or two percent. After that, the annual increase won't rise about two percent.
For additional information on your PERA benefits, contact PERA at 303-832-9550 or 1-800-759-7372.