The retirement fund for government workers in New Mexico is already hurting, so why is the Executive Director of PERA handing out huge raises to his staff? That’s what the State Treasurer wants to know, and he’s calling for an investigation.
This money comes out of the retirement fund. The State Auditor is now looking into it, and the Attorney General could be next.
“I have that I think we need to consider about the Executive Director to put on the next agenda, to have him fired,” said Lorretta Naranjo-Lopez.
Last week, during a board meeting with the Public Employees Retirement Association, member Naranjo-Lopez expressed her concern over PERA’s Executive Director, Wayne Propst.
“I already sent a letter to the Attorney General’s office asking for an investigation,” said Tim Eichenberg.
State Treasurer and PERA Board Member Tim Eichenberg sent a letter to the AG’s Office claiming Propst gave raises to PERA staff, and himself, without consulting the board. It even says many of the staff got a raise despite no changes in their duties.
A list shows employee raises within the last three years: One worker got a promotion and a 63 percent raise. In other words, a $54,000 pay hike.
Then, there are employees who had no changes to their job duties but got an extra $4,500 per year.
“I would like to have a friendly amendment to your motion to recommend that the Executive Director is on administrative leave during this investigation,” said Naranjo-Lopez.
“That is not a friendly amendment,” replied Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
However, PERA Board Members seem to be at odds.
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver told the board she doesn’t think Propst did anything wrong.
“I just want to state this for the record, have no doubt that our Executive Director acted in complete good faith in terms of the decisions he was making,” she said.
PERA’s Chairwoman, Jackie Kohlasch, told KRQE News 13 in a statement that the State Treasurer sent the letter to the AG’s Office without the board’s consent. On behalf of the board, she believes Wayne Propst did not break any laws.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham just announced a solvency task force for PERA, effective immediately. The task force will make recommendations on contributions and payouts and a plan will be pitched during the legislative session next year.