Nevada Lawmakers Debate Bill to Switch New Hires into 401(k) Plan


Public employee groups, businesses and lawmakers all hotly debated a Nevada bill this week that would make major changes to the state’s pension system.

The measure under scrutiny is Assembly Bill 190, which would close off the state’s defined-benefit system and funnel all new government hires into a hybrid plan that more closely resembles a 401(k).

The bill was proposed in late February by Assemblyman Randy Kirner [R].

More on how the pension system would look under the bill, from the Review-Journal:

Kirner said there would still be a defined benefit element to the plan worth 6 percent of an employee’s salary that would be paid by the public agency. This piece of the plan is intended to account for the fact that Nevada public employees do not pay into Social Security, he said.

The remainder of the retirement plan would be a defined contribution plan, with 6 percent being provided by the state or local government agency and another 6 percent coming from the employee.

For police and fire, the defined contribution rate would be 9 percent each from the employer and employee.

At the hearing this week, state businesses were supportive of the measure.

But public employee groups argued against the bill, saying the changes would make it harder to recruit talented workers.

Tina Leiss, a top official at the Nevada Public Employee Retirement Systems, also spoke against the bill.

The bill is still in committee. Read the text of the bill here.


Photo credit: “Flag-map of Nevada” by Darwinek – self-made using Image:Flag of Nevada.svg and Image:USA Nevada location map.svg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Nevada’s public pensions are now public knowledge

The Nevada Public Employees Retirement System (NVPERS) has for years been notoriously tight-lipped about the benefits it provides its members. But no longer: the Nevada Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that public pension data are public records, and now those records are online for all to explore.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute launched its database of public pension data this week on the aptly named Transparent Nevada website.

Among other findings, the data brings to light the number of workers who are “double-dipping”; in other words, employees who earn two salaries by retiring from one job and going to work for another, all while receiving their full pension benefit payments from the first job.

Glenn Cook at the Las Vegas Review Journal has more:

Let’s start with a name that might surprise you: Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie. Bet you didn’t know that anyone who is elected sheriff has to formally retire from the police force before assuming office. The sheriff has a base salary north of $140,000. But in January, he also collected a gross pension benefit of $12,904, with a net payment of $10,874. If he receives the same check every month (PERS said January checks sometimes include credits and deductions), that’s an annual pension benefit of about $155,000, for total public-sector pay of nearly $300,000.

Here’s another one: Family Court Judge Robert Teuton. The longtime prosecutor and juvenile justice official retired from the county when was appointed to the bench in 2008. As a judge, he collects an annual salary of about $160,000. In January, he also collected a gross PERS benefit of $15,325, with a net payment of $10,099. Assuming that benefit is relatively consistent throughout the year, his total annual public-sector pay is north of $300,000.

There are plenty of other recognizable figures cashing two checks these days. Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony is a retired Las Vegas police detective. His salary as a councilman is north of $75,000. His January PERS benefit was $12,249 gross, $10,218 net. He’s probably raking in more than $200,000 per year at your expense.

Andy Matthews, president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, said the database is already paying dividends.

“The PERS payouts now available on TransparentNevada show exactly why PERS bureaucrats worked so hard to keep this secret,” he told the Las Vegas Review Journal. “The information shows — in inflated retirement payout after inflated retirement payout — what Nevadans have long suspected: Public employee pensions are exorbitant and unsustainable.”