In 1931 the state legislature decided that a large retirement association would be able to operate more economically and efficiently than the smaller versions that currently existed, so on April 24, 1931 they established the Public Employees Retirement Association of Minnesota, which officially began operations a few months later on July 1.
At the end of its first fiscal year in 1932, PERA had 2,103 members and just over $110,000 in the bank. Through the years those numbers grew steadily. Even during the depression, PERA's assets increased when other retirement associations showed deficits.
In 1959 police officers and firefighters not affiliated with local retirement associations became members of PERA's newly formed Police and Fire Fund.
In 1968 a change was made to the Public Employees Retirement Fund. The benefits for new hires were coordinated with Social Security (the "Coordinated Plan") while benefits for existing members were not (the "Basic Plan").
In 1987, PERA established the Police and Fire Consolidation Fund, which began to incorporate the members of local police and fire associations from around the state. In 1999 the forty-four local relief associations that made up the Consolidation Fund transferred members and necessary assets to the larger Police and Fire Fund, and the Consolidation Fund was terminated.
Also in 1999, the Public Employees Local Government Correctional Service Retirement Fund was established to cover employees in county correctional institutions who have direct contact with inmates. Prior to 1999, those employees were covered under the benefits of the Coordinated Plan.
Thanks to the creation of these funds, and the introduction of the Defined Contribution Plan in 1987 for elected officials, physicians, and volunteer ambulance personnel, PERA grew even larger. Today, just seventy-nine years after a small group started PERA to deliver much needed benefits to uncovered public employees, the Public Employees Retirement Association of Minnesota handles the retirement needs for over 2,100 participating governmental units, more than 71,000 retirees and beneficiaries, and more than 200,000 active and/or vested members with assets of about $18 billion dollars.
(Information taken from the PERA Website, 9/16/2010).