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Aerial panoramic view of the Reno, Nevada cityscape.

(The Center Square) – Most of Nevada’s public employees are unaware of upcoming rate increases for the state's retirement system, according to recent polling.

The poll was conducted by the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI), a free market think tank. It found 64% of public employees didn't know about the scheduled increases, and another 74% were not familiar with the history of rate increases.

“Apparently, the only way to maintain support for this fundamentally broken system is to keep those very workers in the dark,” NPRI Vice President Robert Fellner said in a statement.

According to the Public Employee Retirement System of Nevada (PERS), public employees split a 29.5% of pay contribution with their employers, with the employee picking up 15.25% of the tab.

The contributions increase to 42.5% of pay with a 22% employee split for police and 30.5% employer-paid contribution for firefighters.

Come July 2021, these rates are scheduled to increase to 44% of pay for police and fire while all other public employees will increase by just 0.25%.

The agency’s website estimates it has 105,000 active members and over 64,000 benefit recipients.

Research by NPRI shows these costs have increased 50% since 2007, and a substantial portion of the revenue is used to pay down the state’s debt.

Fellner argues this is exactly why state lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 211 during the current legislative session.

If passed, the bill would require state agencies to provide public employees with training on PERS before they complete their first year of employment. State law exempts employees from PERS if they serve less than six months.

“These increases have all gone towards paying down the system’s multi-billion dollar debt stemming from the underfunded benefits promised to earlier workers: meaning none of this cost increase will benefit the current employee paying today’s all-time high rates,” Fellner said.

NPRI's survey was conducted between February 22 and March 17 by OH Predictive Insights and has a 5.6% margin of error.