Colorado PERA Loses Chief Lobbyist at Tough Moment

January 20, 2005 ( - The chief lobbyist of the Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA) has suddenly stepped down from his post at a most difficult time for the state pension fund.

Rob Gray, PERA’s director of Governmental Relations, announced his retirement after a 30-year career, the Rocky Mountain News reported.

PERA spokeswoman Katie Kaufmanis told the News that Gray “will transition his responsibilities to other members of the PERA staff. Therefore, he will continue to serve PERA members on a part-time basis.”

“Rob’s commitment during his 30-plus year career at PERA will serve as his legacy and PERA’s continuing inspiration,” she said.

Gray’s departure, coupled with the retirement last year of longtime PERA lobbyist Bob Kirscht, leaves PERA stripped of its two most familiar faces around the Denver capital building at a difficult time when state legislators are offering various reform measures to help deal with its underfunding.

PERA has an unfunded liability of more than $11 billion. PERA has proposed a bill that would fix its financial situation by creating a new tier of benefit recipients in 2007. Meanwhile, Colorado Governor Bill Owens and Treasurer Mark Hillman are calling for more extensive changes than that and a lawmaker has put forth a measure shutting off PERA for new public workers (See  Colorado PERA Issues Funding Reform Proposal ).

In addition to its other woes, a legislative audit last year found fault with the plan’s spending and travel policies (See  Disclosure Violations Added to Colorado’s Pension Problems ).

The $34-billion PERA has 360,000 members among the state’s teachers, judges, and local government workers.