The Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity asked mayoral and City Council candidates in Colorado Springs last year to sign a no-tax pledge.
Now AFP wants political candidates — as well as elected officials — to sign a pledge to opt out of the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association.
“The pledge not only asks signers to abstain from participating in such programs themselves, but it commits them to taking every action possible to protect taxpayers from future pension bailouts, by restoring such funds to financial sustainability and refraining from promising public employees pension benefits that aren’t fully funded and sustainable over the long run,” Jeff Crank and Sean Paige, the Colorado chapter’s director and deputy director, respectively, said in a press release.
Here’s the press release in its entirety:
AFP PERA Pledge Aimed at Defusing Pension Time Bomb
Signatures Sought From Elected Officials and Candidates
In recognition of the fact that underfunded, fiscally-unsustainable public employ retirement programs are driving all levels government toward bankruptcy, Americans for Prosperity-Colorado today unveiled a new pledge it is asking elected officials and candidates for office to sign. The pledge not only asks signers to abstain from participating in such programs themselves, but it commits them to taking every action possible to protect taxpayers from future pension bailouts, by restoring such funds to financial sustainability and refraining from promising public employees pension benefits that aren’t fully funded and sustainable over the long run.
The pledge reads as follows:
“I, _______________________________, pledge to the taxpayers of _________________________ that, if elected, I will opt out of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association’s Defined Benefit Plan, or the applicable taxpayer-funded plan that’s available if my office is not eligible for PERA. I further pledge that I will do everything possible as an elected official to make PERA and other public-sector pension programs fiscally sustainable and self-funded, and to safeguard taxpayers against the risk of future liabilities and bailouts by moving such plans from the defined-benefit to a defined-contribution model. I also pledge to decline invitations to make pay, pension or benefit promises to public employees that aren’t fiscally sustainable and self-supporting.”
AFP will ask elected officials with pension fund responsibility, and all candidates running in relevant races, to sign the pledge.
“Anyone paying attention knows that underfunded government employee pension plans are a major source of financial strain at virtually all levels of government,” said AFP-Colorado Director Jeff Crank, ”and we’re calling on elected officials and candidates to personally help stop the hemorrhaging, and to help prevent future bailouts, by signing this pledge. It not only commits them to not contributing further to the problem, by declining to participate in a pension option that isn’t of the defined-contribution type, but it asks that they take active steps, whenever possible, to stop promising public employees what the taxpayers can’t deliver and to start putting troubled funds back on firm financial ground.”
Crank said he thought it was important that elected officials lead by example on pension reform, which is why the group is asking politicians eligible to enroll in such pension program to decline to do so, unless they are signing up for a defined-contribution plan, or 401K-type plan, modeled after private sector plans. “One obstacle to getting these retirement plans back on track is that many elected officials are beneficiaries of the same plans we’re asking them to overhaul,” said Crank. “That creates a potential conflict of interest that we can help eliminate by asking elected officials to lead by example and not enroll in plans that aren’t sustainable and will contribute to the pension crisis.”
Although AFP is a non-partisan organization that doesn’t endorse individual candidates or political parties, it reserves the right to publicize who signs or doesn’t sign the pledge as part of its citizen education efforts.