Yet another “Excellent Article from the DesertBeacon called: “ALEC Inspired Assault on Public Employee Retirement in the Nevada Legislature” by the Desert Beacon, May 16, 2013.
The article mentions AB 342 which proposes a hybrid system for state employees (public employees) hired after July 1, 2014. The proposal would create individual trust accounts paid into by the public employer at a 6 percent rate. The bill was introduced by Randy Kirner a Republican Assemblyman from Reno.
Why in the world would the legislature change a retirement system that currently pays its way and is well run? PERS is not broken as so many public employee haters will say so let’s not fix it.
The system has over 28 billion dollars in it, and the unfunded liability is being reduced each year as PERS promised. This is done by increasing contribution rates, and having an investment team focused on financial success. Even with the recent economic melt down, PERS is still healthy and earns over 8 percent on its investments overall.
The conservative Chicken Littles in Nevada would have everyone believe there is a crisis when there is none. Creating a defined contribution plan will mean lower retirement benefits and increased administrative costs. Most shockingly (or not), those who benefit the most from defined contribution plans are administrators, lawyers and financial managers, the very people who caused the nation’s financial meltdown in 2008. For them, Nevada’s public employee retirement plan would be just another fund with which to gamble.
This article does not discuss or refer to state employees but it does explain how statistical arguments are not necessarily accurate or relevent. Our detractors like to use studies and questionable numbers and statistics to attack our benefits, wages and pensions. Remember, just because there are numbers in an argument or discussion does not mean their position is correct or even accurate.
How Brian Sandoval handled or is handing the patient dumping allegations show the depth of ineptness of his administration. It shows what state employees must endure from its chief executive. They must keep quiet knowing Sandoval’s only connection with reality are polls which show he will handily win a second term. Sandoval only focuses on what is best for him and his re-election bid. His re-election will also strengthen his national political prospects. That is all he cares about.
Nevada has been dumping mentally ill patients on California communities. There are undoubtedly other states which receive Nevada patients, but California like Nevada can cannot handle the cases already in their system. An investigation will show patient dumping as a normal thing for Nevada’s mental health system. Mental health problems have never been important in Nevada, and they rarely are an issue in political races.
That is not to say other states have not done their fair share of dumping onto Nevada, especially onto the Las Vegas and Reno communities but just because some patients or paroled prisoners from other states are dumped here is no excuse for the dumping we do.
Besides and most importantly, Nevada’s “Greyhound bus therapy” is just wrong and inhumane. It mistreats and dehumanizes a vulnerable population and shows Nevada’s mental health care system is broken. How we handle the most vulnerable shows how the state is really run.
Shame on Brian Sandoval, Mike Willden and every legislator. Shame on all of you.
Mental health is not something Sandoval understands. Sure, he will superficially address it now because it is in the news and he has to do something, anything fast.
Firing employees will not be enough because it solves nothing in the long term. Firing employees only looks good to shallow people ignorant of how government works.
Social programs such as mental health, public health, prisons, education in general are cut first in a budget crunch. Now, we must get rid of political rhetoric and end patient dumping. Unfortunately, solutions will not be found in the governor’s office or in the lobbyist tainted legislative madness going on right now.
Let’s grow up and solve problems.
This article is worth the time to read and is an “Excellent Article”.
“The pitfalls and perils of Carson City for newbies”, by Steve Sebelius, Las Vegas Review Journal, April 17, 2013
The article starts this way:
“An open letter to Odis “Tyrone” Thompson, who was unanimously appointed to the Nevada Assembly on Tuesday by the Clark County Commission:”
I think he clearly defines what motivates the legislative process: Money.
State employee haters use their considerable wealth, lobbyists and political influence to attack state employees. They think state employees are somehow on public assistance for just being employed by the state or are malingering, not paying their way. In response, I offer some positive news about PERS that will annoy them to no end. The news is that PERS, the Public Employee Retirement System is solvent and sound.
This of course will not be the narrative at the legislature in public hearings or in the back rooms where deals are made. So, to annoy them again I offer the following whine-worthy good news:
- The System has earned an average of 9.4 percent per year on its investments for the past 28 years. PERS’ strategy is to take the least risk as possible to preserve the system’s financial integrity. It has been very successful in this.
- The system has $25.9 billion in assets as of June 30, 2012. Now that is a BIG chunk of money. Investments are the cornerstone of its success and pays retirement benefits.
- The system is 71 percent funded. In part, increases in retirement contribution rates have insured solvency. For example, state employees will pay 13.25 percent of their income into the retirement system starting July 1, 2013. This is about double the amount a Social Security participant pays.
SB 483 will eventually give back longevity and merit pay to state employees. These incentives were suspended in the last two legislative sessions (2009 and 2011). The merit pay would be restored first and longevity last. This is small consolation for long time employees who no longer see merit increases in any case. This shows how the governor and legislature feels about long time employees. Not much. It’s not as if state employees are overpaid like some would say. On average they make about $48,000 a year. Further, there were just over 21,000 employees five years ago and there just over 14,000 now.
This attitude goes back to the late governor Kenny Guinn. His philosophy was, “Okay, let’s find a way to get rid of as many old timers as we can, shall we?” He did and every governor since that time has had the same and unwavering attitude toward old-time employees…. the fewer the better. Fewer older employees mean salaries are reset lower and there will be fewer longevity payments. Salary costs go down. Think lower retirement costs too.
SB 483 AN ACT relating to state employees; extending the temporary suspension of the semiannual payment of longevity pay during the 2013-2015 biennium; extending the temporary suspension of merit pay increases during Fiscal Year 2013-2014; requiring state employees to take a certain salary reduction and, with certain exceptions, a number of days of unpaid furlough leave during the 2013-2015 biennium; and providing other matters properly relating thereto. http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/77th2013/Reports/history.cfm?ID=1081
As of April 3rd, it was exempt. Which means normal procedural rules do not apply. If passed, would become effective July 1, 2013. Here are some explainations from LCB website (complicated as most laws are):
Existing law provides for a plan to encourage continuity of service in State Government, under which semiannual payments are made to state employees rated standard or better with 8 years or more of continuous service, commonly known as “longevity pay.” (NRS 284.177) Existing law also provides for state employees who are rated standard or better and have not attained the top step of their grade to receive a merit pay increase annually. (NRS 284.175, 284.335; NAC 284.194, 284.196) Those longevity payments and merit pay increases were temporarily suspended by the Legislature during the 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 biennia. (Chapter 276, Statutes of Nevada 2009, p. 1164, as amended by chapter 465, Statutes of Nevada 2009, p. 2642; Chapter 475, Statutes of Nevada 2011, p. 2888) Section 1 of this bill continues the suspension of the longevity payments for the 2013-2015 biennium and continues the suspension of the merit pay increases for the Fiscal Year 2013-2014. During the 2009-2011 biennium, with certain exceptions, state employees were required to take a certain amount of unpaid furlough leave. (Chapter 391, Statutes of Nevada 2009, p. 2159) During the 2011-2013 biennium, state employees were required to take a salary reduction of 2.5 percent and an amount of unpaid furlough leave that was equivalent to a 2.3 percent salary reduction or, if exempted from the furlough requirements for the protection of the public health, safety or welfare, an additional equivalent salary reduction. (Chapter 374, Statutes of Nevada 2011, p. 2219) Sections 2-5 of this bill require state employees to take a 2.5 percent salary reduction and an amount of unpaid furlough leave that is equivalent to a 1.15 percent salary reduction or, if exempted from the furlough requirements for the protection of the public health, safety or welfare, an additional equivalent salary reduction.
Assemblyman Steve Brooks was arrested yesterday evening (March 29th) after a chase near Barstow, CA. Here is a YouTube video of the capture:
Here is an article: http://www.mynews4.com/news/local/story/Former-Assemblyman-Steven-Brooks-is-arrested-again/NNhEVxcf8kSQvpJPYhWhAA.cspx
Yesterday the Nevada Assembly voted to expel Steve Brooks. This is welcomed … they did what they had to.
But, Steve Brooks isn’t finished.
Like I said in the beginning, I hope he gets help but that appears unlikely. He is lost in a world driven by paranoia and sincerely believes “they” are out to get him. What makes this explosive are his violent tendencies and a love of weapons whether they be a gun or a sword. This is a bad combination. In Nevada, brandishing a weapon WILL get you killed.
Brooks’ notoriety might help if a confrontation develops, at least “they” will know who he is and take a moment before reacting. But I see more craziness and violence with a bad ending either for him or his target.
I am happy Brooks will not be a legislator nor will he be allowed into the Legislative building. To some extent, this protects state employees and the public.