PERA lost $1.8 billion in 2018; now, state workers and retirees are on the hook

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DENVER -- PERA did not have a good 2018 on Wall Street. The Public Employees Retirement Association announced a $1.8 billion loss due to a tumultuous close in 2018.

As a result, the state employee pension fund, which features retirement plans for more than 600,000 Coloradans, announced current state workers and current retirees will have to contribute more or sacrifice benefits to make up the difference.

"The fourth quarter of 2018 was a tough year," said Colorado State Treasurer Dave Young.

Young, who sits on the PERA board, said no one is being held responsible for the $1.8 billion loss because the impact was felt across the country throughout many portfolios.

"We are constantly, as a board, monitoring this," Young said. "You don't want to react moment by moment."

Current retirees will receive no cost-of-living adjustment in 2019. In 2020, they will receive a cost-of-living adjustment of only 1.25 percent compared to the traditional 2 percent.

"My biggest concern is for the people who retired 20-30 years ago," said Lori Goldstein, a retiree advocate with the Colorado Education Association.

Goldstein is a retired teacher.

"They have to make ends meet," Goldstein added.

Beginning next month, current state workers will contribute 8.75 percent of their salary to PERA -- up from 8 percent.

Beginning in 2020, most state workers will contribute 10 percent of their salary to the retirement fund.

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