On November 21st, the NV PEBP Board voted to restore some benefits it took away several years ago within the self-funded PPO plan. The so-call Consumer Driven plan will now cover 80 percent of the medical bills from when the deductible is met and until the out-of-pocket maximum is reached. The individual deductible will go down by $400 for an individual and $800 for a family.
The healthy surplus is again the result of state employees being pressured by high deductibles and co-pays. For the past few years, the NV PEBP has announced unexpected high excess reserves and every year it gives back some of them. The people doing the figuring are incompetent. Seriously… they are incompetent. Something has to change. Let’s start with the resignation of the NV PEBP executive officer Wells. I have said this before and will say it again. He needs to resign. His salary could then be categorized as “salary savings” a common term for those knowledgable about state budget bullshit.
A couple of sessions ago the chicken-little executive officer announced there was a record-setting $100 million deficit, implying that state employees were medical insurance leeches and something had to be done and it had to be NOW! All lies and more bullshit. After he said that, the high deductible plan started and state employee bank accounts and salaries were pillaged. This was in addition to salary cuts, furloughs and increased pension payments.
Reality was different. State employees made up the deficit and paid millions extra into the reserve account. This shows state employees are not leeches and they more than pay their way. I wonder when people will get that? Certainly, the PEBP executive officer and his boss, Sandoval don’t.
Over these years, the PEBP Board returned millions of dollars to state employees over the objections of the executive director. I thought, “What a mindless minion.” Then I remembered… he is just one of many Sandoval minions with orders to make state employee lives harder. Why? Because Sandoval’s base likes to pick on state employees and too many think every employee gets an office, makes lots of money, usually over $100,000 a year and has a Cadillac health insurance plan. I have met many people who actually believe this. No, really! (Note: All were Republicans, wonder if there is a pattern here? Hmmm…) They are shocked when I tell them cube farms are standard and only one and a half percent of all state employees make over $100,000 a year with a fifth of all employees making $25,000 or less. I asked that they look at the cube farms in the Bryan Building to get a sense of some working conditions.
Just thinking … if you add a child or two to a household with an income less than $25,000, many state employees would qualify for welfare. Now that is a sorry state of affairs. It is immoral to balance the state’s budget on the backs of state employees as Sandoval and the Legislature have done the past six years or so. Shame on them!
The PEBP executive officer makes Sandoval look bad but then, the quitter, do nothing and know nothing governor is sunny about his future. He is probably right about that because voters don’t know what he is. He is counting on low information voters to keep him in office and he won’t truthfully say will quit his governorship a couple of years after his re-election.
I agree with this comment posted to this blog. It was written by Lawrence Cassidy:
I agree with Mr. Jackson in that “all of this is in the ‘pretense’ of weeding out corruption” and that the real motive behind wanting to publish the personal and private information of Nevada state retirees’ pension amounts, salaries, and work history is to attack Nevada PERS, even though a recent (November of 2013) independent study of Nevada PERS, conducted by AON Hewitt, stated, “In summary, we believe the NVPERS Actuarial Funding Policy is comprehensive, thoughtful and a model for other public retirement systems to follow.”
Additionally, the raw information demanded by the RGJ, upon its release, will not show other factors or circumstances involved in a Nevada state employee’s retirement or pension amount received. It will only show raw data, and only provide skewed information to fulfill some self-serving political agenda.
Furthermore, because it is hypothetical and speculative, the identity theft argument submitted by Attorney Chris Wicker was weak from the start. Justices are primarily concerned only with hard evidence, the law as it is written, and legal precedents (Stare Decisis).
I believe that a much better argument would have been that the demand of retirees’ personal and private information by the RGJ from the State of Nevada violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. Basically, the Equal Protection Clause guarantees that no person or class of persons shall be denied the same protection of the laws that is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in like circumstances in their lives, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness.
To wit, Nevada state employees are forced to participate in Nevada PERS in lieu of Social Security, and they are not given a choice in the matter, because Nevada PERS does not pay into the Social Security System. Social Security benefit information is classified as private under federal law, and the release of that information to the public violates the Privacy Act of 1974.
Nevada State Law cannot take precedence over or thwart the U.S. Constitution or federal law. All persons living in these United States of America are protected by the U.S. Constitution and federal law, and likewise are afforded equal protection under the law. Therefore, since the personal and pension benefits information of retirees receiving a pension benefit from Social Security are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974, and State of Nevada retirees had no choice but to participate in Nevada PERS in lieu of participating in Social Security, they too should be afforded the same protections “enjoyed by other persons or other classes in like circumstances” as per the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Therefore, I believe that Nevada PERS should have argued that the release by the State of Nevada of personal and private information about Nevada state retirees would violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Nevada Supreme Court justices did not rule on that issue, but instead determined that the “concerns raised by the attorney for the Public Employees Retirement System about the potential for identity theft were hypothetical and speculative.” Additionally, in the opinion of the court written by Justice Ron Parraguirre, he stated, “because the government’s interests in nondisclosure in this instance do not clearly outweigh the public’s presumed right to access, we conclude that the district court did not err in balancing the interests involved in favor of disclosure.”
Notice the wording that the justice used, specifically, “the government’s interests in nondisclosure in this instance do not clearly outweigh the public’s presumed right to access”. In other words, there could be other “instances” where they would outweigh, and notice how he pointed out that there is only a “presumed right” of the public to access, not an absolute right, whereas the Equal Protection Clause is an absolute right. However, the Equal Protection Clause was not an issue before the court, so the justices could not rule on it. It would have to be an issue brought before the court for them to determine if the release of the information by the State of Nevada would amount to a civil rights violation. I believe that it would be, but I am not a lawyer, just someone who wishes that he was afforded the same protections under the law as other people, such as Social Security recipients in the State of Nevada, who are in a like circumstance as I am.
However, in spite of all of our laws, American history and culture are full of examples that some of us are just more equal than others, that equal protection is all-too-often nothing more than a fairytale, more easily obtained by those with money or a better attorney, that greed, self-interest, and personal and political agendas all-too-often trample on the human and civil rights of others.
After thinking about this, the newspaper’s requests for reports they can use are galling. Since when does PERS work for THEM? And, how about District Court Judge James Russell‘s demand that PERS create new reports just for the newspaper? His ruling was nonsensical, wrong and punitive, and he needs to be “called out” over it. Thankfully the supreme court saw through this BS and stopped it.
Previouly, I saw this same attitude from the Reno Gazette while I was working for the state. They wanted me to provide them with information about the dirtiest restaurants so they could go after them publicly. My response was,”No. But you can come to my office to see the inspection records but you can not use those records for a witch hunt. I expect you to treat every restaurant and its owner or operator with respect. No exceptions.”
Their response was to complain to my boss. You see, I did not use the inspection information for witch-hunts, so my reports were useless to them and their reporters were either too lazy to compile information or were unwilling to treat each business with respect. Probably both! Their calls to my boss were ineffective.
I see more lawsuits from the newspaper again demanding information in a format they can use to attack retirees and publicly humiliate some. The newspaper will try to go around the Supreme Court’s ruling in any way they can, but I have confidence that PERS will legally block their requests.
The Nevada Supreme unanimously ruled on November 14, 2013 that NV PERS retiree information is not confidential. They ruled in favor of District Court Judge James Russell who ordered the information’s release by January 4, 2012 in a format demanded by the newspaper. However, they said PERS did not have to create customized reports or new documents using retiree information.
The court also said that retiree information would not lead to identity theft or retiree abuse calling such concerns hypothetical and speculative.
How this works out will be interesting. I suppose the information will eventually be in a searchable table on the Reno Gazette Journal’s website. I doubt PERS will have their information in this format so the RGJ will have to do some work. In judge Russell’s ruling in 2011, he ordered PERS to give the RGJ the information in a format it wanted. Today’s ruling stops that nonsense.
I said before, PERS information is public. This is not something most retirees want but public access to government documents is generally guaranteed in Nevada. Luckily the individual record of each retiree is confidential but not all information PERS has is confidential.
This is a mixed ruling.
As I have said for many years, and a recent independent study of NV PERS confirms, the system is well run and financially stable. The report can be found here. The report states NV PERS is one of the better retirement plans and is a model for others to follow. What local government do in the future is most worrying. NV PERS will be fine if local government employees and their governments contribute what they owe. Compounding this potential problem is that some local government employees pay nothing into the retirement system due to collective bargaining agreements. Now their employers are on the hook for the whole tab and let’s hope they pay it and not back out of their obligations as so many have done in other states.
Remember, state employees pay half of the retirement contribution rate which is just over 13 percent and have no collective bargaining rights. They also make 25 to 30 percent less than a local government employee doing the same work.
Despite the good news, Republican legislator, Randy Kirner of Reno wants to over-haul NVPERS because it is a liability and isn’t working well. The study counters what he believes and his reaction is to strike out and punish public employees. He probably thinks state employees get too much and the way to stop that is to replace NV PERS with something that won’t work in the future. Maybe he won’t be re-elected.
This short article covers an email campaign piece Sandoval’s people sent to potential donors. In exchange for monthly donations, donors could have “exclusive benefits” such as video chats and lunch with Sandoval. Sure sounds like pay-to-play a sleazy tactic by disreputable people. Of course his campaign officials scoff at this idea since Sandoval is so honest and all. It could be his people are dishonest but then, Sandoval hire them.
Not that the governor listens to me, but he needs to retract the e-mailer now. Otherwise, I will be mentioning this in future articles. I’ll bet others will too.
In a Republican address on September 21, 2013, Brian Sandoval said in part: “It’s no accident that the fastest growing states with the best economies are all led by Republican governors. ”
He is wrong as usual. The best economies are led by both Republicans and Democrats.
He also implies in his speech that Nevada has significantly improved its economy and that he is the Republican who did it. But the reality is that Nevada ranks low in economic growth and he has no answer for that. He says Republicans are best at economics because he wants to look good to his national party so he can run for national office. Like I said before, he will quit his job to run for another office, probably for the senate.
A state’s economic growth is mostly the work of market forces and not the governor or his political party.
The governor, working with the legislature can eliminate roadblocks, but they can rarely change the momentum of the marketplace. It is like weeding a garden. Weeding (eliminating rules which hamper business) certainly helps the plant (the marketplace), but the hard work must be done by the plant.
Right now, Nevada’s economy succeeds when gaming and construction are strong. Sandoval implies in his speech that laying off 600 state employees helped Nevada’s economy. In truth, eliminating positions only helped balance the budget. Further, eliminating state employee positions had a negative effect in Carson City/ Reno and Las Vegas. Only a politician really thinks that eliminating state employees creates a better economy. I not imagine a company, which is thinking about moving to Nevada would base its decision on the number of fired state employees or the number of positions eliminated. The governor’s political party affiliation does not drive the decision.
also the video of his address is at: http://www.youtube.com/gopweeklyaddress