SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A state senator says he’s had enough of the bickering and fighting at the board meetings held by the Public Employees Retirement Association. He’s hoping a new bill will positively change how the board functions.
“We have a real problem with our PERA Board,” says Senator George Munoz, (D) Gallup.
In the past year, the monthly PERA boarding meetings have had discussions ranging from who should pay for snacks, to member Loretta Naranjo-Lopez accusing another member of trying to steal her phone. That led to a pause in the meeting when she got up to leave.
Plus, they’ve had multiple discussions to see if they should fire their Executive Director. Senator Munoz says enough is enough.
“They end up fighting with each other and not bringing anything to the session. Well, we can no longer do that,” he says.
After sitting in on multiple PERA meetings, Munoz decided to sponsor this bill to be introduced in the upcoming legislative session. The current board members are voted into their positions.
If the bill passes, it will change how the board is formed and require all members to have financial experience. “We want the Governor to appoint three members. We want the counties and municipalities to appoint two members. We want the retirees to have two members, so we get diversity,” says Senator Munoz.
Think New Mexico, a local think tank, stands behind Munoz and says they’ve already been hearing plenty of concerns. “We get messages every week from public employees who are very concerned about how their board is mismanaging their funds,” says Othiamba Umi.
Munoz believes it’s finally time to prioritize the retirees. “We need a board that’s constant, stable, and steady and understands the problem with our PERA fund right now,” he says.
KRQE News 13 reached out Naranjo-Lopez and Chairwoman Jackie Kohlasch for a response to the proposed legislation, but neither wanted to comment.