Retirement System, Prevailing Wage Threshold Under Attack in Nevada

Nevada Assemblyman Randy Kirner (R-Reno)In Nevada, the state GOP is preparing to push a series of bills through the State Assembly that would make drastic changes to public retirement plans and prevailing wage laws.  While the Democratic majority has agreed to listen to their proposals, it is highly unlikely they will be passed, given that both chambers of the state legislature are held by Democrats.  Still, in a political world where anything is possible (we didn’t think Missouri could pass Paycheck Deception, but look what’s happening), Nevada workers have the right to worry about their wages and retirements.

Democrats are angered that the Assembly GOP would prioritize these anti-worker measures with so much to address. Assembly Majority Leader William Horne said the GOP agenda, “attacks workers and does nothing to adequately fund education or create jobs.” He added that he was disappointed that they were “retreading the same partisan attacks they’ve lobbed in previous legislative sessions.”

Among the most drastic changes proposed are those to the state’s prevailing wage laws.  Proposed bills by Republican assemblymen Cresent Hardy and John Ellison would exempt public and higher education projects from the prevailing wage law.  Another bill would dramatically raise the threshold for prevailing wage from its current level of $100,000 to $1.5 million, a figure in another stratosphere from nearly every city in the nation (some are as low as $10,000 or $25,000).

The anti-retirement battle, meanwhile, is being led by Assemblyman Randy Kirner:

Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Reno, said he will introduce a bill to move public pensions away from a defined benefit plan to a hybrid system that emphasizes a contribution plan as part of the overall retirement system.

Under a defined benefit plan, retirees are guaranteed a monthly amount based on their salary and how long they’ve worked. Monthly benefits under a contribution plan are based on how much is put into an individual retirement account, but the benefits are portable, meaning an employee can take that money with them if they leave public service.

Kirner said his plan would save the state $30 million in the last half of the two-year budget cycle.  However, that number is skewed due to the true intent of the proposed bill.  If passed, the bill would tie retirement age to Social Security retirement instead of the current system which allows retirement after 30 years on the job.  It would be a drastic change to the current system.

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