Save PERA COLA is now actively seeking your contributions to fund the class action lawsuit Gary Justus and Kathleen Hopkins v. the State of Colorado and Colorado PERA et al. filed February 26 in state District Court in Denver. It will require the significant support of retirees, those eligible to retire, and other interested parties to overturn the parts of Senate Bill 1 that violate our contract with PERA by reducing the guaranteed annual benefit increases from 3.5% (3.25% Denver schools division) to zero in 2010, and 2% or less thereafter. The suit also seeks to overturn the portion of the law that sets back any future increases four months from March to July. The suit asks the court to certify a class of PERA members “who became eligible to retire or who retired between March 1, 1994 and February 28, 2010, or who are ‘survivors’ of such retirees.”
The plaintiffs have retained a Pennsylvania law firm experienced in public pension litigation, Stember, Feinstein, Doyle & Payne, LLC, as well as the Colorado-based Richard Rosenblatt and Associates. Stephen Pincus, Esq., William T. Payne, Esq., and John Stember, Esq. will be the lead attorneys.
While the State of Colorado has public tax dollars to defend itself through the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, we must rely on cash donations primarily from PERA members who will already be feeling the inflationary effects on their benefits. Ironically, PERA will also be using its members’ assets to oppose its members’ interests. It will perhaps take several years for a final answer from the only branch of government left that can afford us a level playing field to decide this issue.
This will likely be our only opportunity to challenge Senate Bill 1. If it is allowed to stand as written, it sets an incredibly powerful precedent for future reductions in PERA retirees’ fully vested benefits when the state again feels the need to find more money. Other public pensions in Colorado will not be immune, and the precedent for attacking public retirees’ pensions here will embolden other states to try the same.
Over the course of the next 30 years, the purchasing power of PERA retirees’ benefits will be cut progressively downward 38% (Denver 33%) compared to pre-SB1 guarantees. For every $1000 of monthly benefit a retiree receives today, he or she will not receive $154,336 (DPS $127,105) in contractually guaranteed cumulative benefits due to SB1. This is why Senator Josh Penry (R-Grand Junction) stated “Fully 90 percent of the PERA fix comes from benefit cuts to current and future retirees…”
Save PERA COLA is a Colorado corporation registered with the Colorado Secretary of State. SPC has applied for designation with the IRS as a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation that is eligible to receive donations that are not tax-deductible. All funds will be deposited into SPC’s Westerra Credit Union checking account by Treasurer Judy Ganschaw. Donations will be used exclusively for funding the lawsuit. Upon final adjudication by the courts, any excess funds collected will be returned to donors on a pro rata basis upon request.
Your participation in this effort is crucial to its success. Some retirees receive much less in pension benefits than you and I, and can give little or none. Food and medicine are their first priorities. They rely on the 3.5% to just survive. Others of us can do more and we will. Please search within and find what your part will be in solving this problem that has been thrust upon us by PERA, the General Assembly and Governor Ritter.
You may donate at our website using PayPal, a secure online payment service, or by mailing a check to:Save PERA COLA c/o Judy Ganschaw, Treasurer 3241 S. Josephine St. Denver, CO 80210 Or make a donation using Paypal:
Note that if you use Paypal, we will be charged a 2.9% fee, plus $.30 per transaction. For larger donations, sending us a check will avoid this fee.
Donations will be acknowledged if contact information is provided. Please include address, phone number, email and PERA division (school, DPS, state, judicial, or local government). Please indicate whether or not we can publish your name and division as a supporter of the lawsuit on our website.
Thank you for your support of all kinds in this effort. It is greatly appreciated and highly necessary.
Gary Justus and Rich Allen