More than 2,000 retired Nevada state government employees are receiving annual pensions of more than $100,000 from the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada (PERS), according to the Transparent Nevada website.
“Government payrolls are the No. 1 issue affecting every service: public safety, healthcare, administration, education, and welfare," Adam Andrzejewski the CEO and Founder of OpenTheBooks.com, told The Center Square. "Pay, perks and pension benefits for public employees deserve a rigorous, fact-based public debate.”
Current employees are contributing more of their paychecks to the pension system than their predecessors to help for the ballooning benefits. In 2009, state employees contributed 20.5 percent of their salary to PERS. Today that number is 29.5 percent.
In 2013, the number of public retirees collecting over $100,000 from PERS each year was on slightly more than 1,000. According to work by Transparent Nevada, that number is currently 2,150. In 2013, only 10 people were receiving pensions of over $200,000. Today, 23 people are. The median household income in the state is $55,000.
In 2015, the Nevada state legislature took steps to cap the allowable cost of living increase for pensioners at 3 percent each year. But those already in the pension system when the new cap was set can still receive annual cost of living increases of 5 percent.
“Before complaining about Washington, D.C., people must insist on good government where they live," Andrzejewski said. "The people have the power to hold local politicians accountable for tax and spend decisions.”
The United States Federal Reserve recently completed a study of the Nevada PERS system. They found that PERS had an “unfunded liability of $43.3 billion.” The Federal Reserve also listed the PERS funding ratio (comparing liabilities with assets) at 45.5 percent. According to the website Actuary.org, a ratio of 60.0 percent is considered “weak.”