The U.S. public pension crisis extends far beyond Nevada, with many states finding themselves in a similarly dire situation. Below are a few pension related stories from the past month:
The Los Angeles Times documents the legislative enhancements that led to the nation’s largest public pension fund — the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers) — finding itself nearly $300 billion in debt. Nevada experienced similarly irresponsible pension enhancements, although they were spread out over several legislative sessions, not just one.
The New York Times exposes how U.S. public pensions use two sets of books: one keeps publicly reported debt low, while the full amount is only revealed if an agency attempts to leave the system: “After all, the little fund held far more money than it needed, according to its official numbers from California’s renowned public pension system, Calpers. Except it really didn’t. In fact, it was significantly underfunded. Suddenly Calpers began demanding a payment of more than half a million dollars.”
The Financial Times reports that the “US public pension crisis is really hard to fix” with experts at Stanford pegging the combined unfunded liability at $3.4 trillion nationwide.
The Washington Post reports that Dallas police officers are scrambling to cash out of their pension fund as it nears bankruptcy.
The Oregonian reports on a board member imploring lawmakers to immediately enact pension reform, stating that: “This is becoming a moral issue. We can't just talk about numbers anymore."
- The South Carolina State Treasurer says pension debt threatens to "swallow us whole," according to the Index-Journal.
For the latest on Nevada PERS, be sure to visit npri.org/issues/detail/pers.
Below is a fantastic video by Bellwether Education Partners that explains how teacher pensions work, in less than 3 minutes!
In The Pension Pac-Man: How Pension Debt Eats Away at Teacher Salaries Chad Alderman explains how rising retirement costs penalize today's teachers:
It may be counterintuitive, but higher retirement contributions have not translated into better retirement benefits for teachers. In fact, in the wake of the recent recession, states accelerated a trend of offering newly hired employees less generous benefits than what was provided to their older peers. Even as employer contributions toward teachers’ retirement plans are at all-time highs, those same employers are actually offering new teachers worse benefits. After all those cuts, today is the worst time to become a teacher in decades, at least in terms of net retirement benefits.
What's causing this situation? Unfortunately for teachers, the rising costs of their retirement systems do not reflect improved benefits, it's primarily a function of debt.
Be sure to read the full report by the Bellwether Education Partners here.
And to keep up with the latest from NPRI on Nevada PERS, click here.
As if NVPERS members didn't have enough to be frustrated about with reduced benefits and higher costs, PERS board members have added insult to injury: “Our workforce is dumbed-down… Their capacity to understand this stuff is pretty diminished. I’m sorry, it just is,” says Chairman Mark Vincent. Not only are his claims insulting, but misleading. In fact, it was PERS board members who misunderstood the fundamentals of how PERS rate hikes have impacted workers and taxpayers. (Read more)
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt has filed the first state-led lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime rules — rules aimed at forcing private companies into paying overtime for large swaths of previously exempt employees. “Not only do we think [this is] an unlawful rule, but this rule will ratchet upward automatically forever,” Laxalt said. “We do not believe that federal law allows this to go into effect.” (Read more)
Fiscal and taxes:
This isn’t the kind of bipartisanship most taxpayers were hoping for: Six of the 14 Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee joined with Democratic counterparts in favor of providing a multibillion-dollar bailout for a private union pension and healthcare fund. (Read more)
After five days of asking for donations, an apparent online fundraising effort for the Newark Teachers Union failed to attract even a single contribution. Maybe if the union provided substantive value to its members, it wouldn’t have to resort to inadequate GoFundMe fundraising efforts. (Read more)
California Gov. Jerry Brown is considering whether to sign a bill that would allow tens of thousands of incarcerated felons to vote. The Legislature sent a bill to Brown’s desk that would restore voting rights to an estimated 50,000 convicted felons who are currently behind bars in county jails. If signed, the bill would create an odd situation in California where felons incarcerated in county jails could cast a ballot, while prisoners in state penitentiaries — as well as parolees — would remain prohibited from doing so. (Read more)
More Cops tax:
To get Clark County voters to pass the 2004 “More Cops” sales-tax ballot measure, Metro’s then-sheriff and other local-government officials repeatedly and very publicly promised the funds would only be used to put more police on the street. Nevada lawmakers early the next year made the same pledge and even wrote it into state law. Ten years later, however, lawmakers and Metro both quietly, but explicitly, broke that promise. And now, they’re asking for even more ‘More Cops’ taxes. (Read more)
Fiscal and taxes:
Plans for a $1.9 billion stadium, including $750 million of taxpayer funding, won the recommendation of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee. Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani was the only person to speak out against the project during Thursday’s meeting, saying “I support a stadium, but not with public financing.” The proposal will now go to Gov. Brian Sandoval for consideration. He is expected to call for a special session to get legislative approval for funding. (Read more)
Freedom of speech:
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the nonprofit organization that designates internet domain names and addresses, is currently overseen by the U.S. Commerce Department. But things might not remain that way. The Obama Administration intends to transfer oversight of ICANN to international control, thereby giving nations known for substantial human rights abuses — such as suppressing free speech — partial control over a basic and essential component of the internet. (Read more)
President Barack Obama has created a 4,900 square mile no-go zone for commercial fishing and other activity off the coast of New England as the first-ever Atlantic marine monument. Now known as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the area was considered one of the prime commercial fishing areas for lobster and crab. The designation as a national monument will virtually shut down these activities throughout the area, despite the fact that fishing practices had been considered well-managed and sustainable. (Read more)
America is known as “the land of the free,” and traditionally this has been the case according to the Cato Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World annual reports. Just as recently as the year 2000, America was consistently ranked among the top nations for economic freedom, second only to Hong Kong. Since then, however, things have changed. America now ranks 16th for a second consecutive year. (Read more)
More Cops tax:
In 2004, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department campaigned aggressively for more money. The declared purpose was to hire more officers to account for growth in population and help reduce crime. However, an investigation by the Nevada Policy Research Institute shows that the lofty promises of the “More Cops” tax haven’t been met. In fact, the investigation has revealed a pronounced absence of new hires, an end-of-year bank balance this year well over $100 million and a major increase in per-officer costs. (Read more)
Some environmentalist groups are pushing lawmakers to restrict — if not outright prohibit — energy production on federally controlled lands. While such a proposal would cost the United States billions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of jobs, it is western states that would bear the brunt of the costs. For states like Nevada with disproportionately high levels of fed-controlled lands, the prohibitions would be economically devastating. (Read more)
The total number of private-sector job openings in the United States is at an all-time high since 2000, when the statistic first began being tracked. But that’s no thanks to government. Not only is it private sector job openings that are breaking records, but past government interventions have almost certaingly stifled the creation of many more jobs. (Read more)
Labor leaders like to claim that unionization represents an American value. The truth is, while voluntary unionization may represent some such classic value, the coercive and mandatory unionization labor bosses regularly seek undermines the freedom of association. Such heavy handed compulsion is hardly an American tradition. (Read more)
While more than 8,000 students anxiously await the Nevada Supreme Court’s decision on Education Savings Accounts, Native American students in the U.S. might get their own version of the reform. If passed, a bill sponsored by U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) would give Native American students currently attending schools run by the Bureau of Indian Education the option of using 90 percent of per-pupil federal funding for ESAs. (Read more)
Recently, Harry Reid and 19 of his closest friends in the United States Senate launched a coordinated attack on free-market policy groups. Unfortunately, the sorry display of Soviet-style political intimidation from these senators is just the tip of the iceberg. The IRS, attorneys general and even the DOJ also have a record of harassing, intimidating and bullying anyone who dares to challenge their stranglehold on power. (Read more)
Over $1.7 million has been paid to dead federal workers, according to the Social Security Administration’s inspector General. According to the audit, the agency failed to crosscheck beneficiaries’ deaths with the Office of Personnel Management, leading to the deceased receiving benefits for an average of seven years after their death. (Read more)
A new analysis by the Nevada Policy Research Institute questions the extent to which the drop in nominal unemployment truly signals an economic recovery. In fact, a key factor behind any apparent reduction in the state’s unemployment rate appears to be a mass migration out of the state’s labor force. Most disturbing, according to some businesses, is the extent to which the quality of the labor force has also deteriorated over recent years. (Read more)
Public sector growth:
As far as employment is concerned, the government sector continues to grow, while the private sector continues to struggle. Government employees in the United States now outnumber the total number of manufacturing employees, by almost 10 million positions. (Read more)
Apple is in trouble with the European Union, which insists the company owes the Irish government back taxes. The only problem, however, is that Ireland’s government disagrees. The EU has repeatedly blasted Ireland for its low corporate tax rate, saying “tax competition” is bad for other member nations — but the EU is now taking things a step further by aggressively arguing that a sovereign nation’s own coffers are “wrong” about a company’s tax bill. (Read more)
No, there is no Supreme Court decision as yet. Sorry for the startle. I really am trying to avoid emailing until a decision, however, there is an update from the ACSI scholarship granting organization (SGO) on their AB165 (tax scholarship) application opening.
Previously, I reported enrollment would open tomorrow. However, I just received an email from ACSI informing me they have postponed applications until January, 2017. ACSI sends their thanks to everyone who has contacted them, and has apologized for the delay. The good news is that while they missed funding for this cycle of tax credits, ACSI now has the opportunity to build a larger funding base over the course of the school year.
Since I have your attention, let’s talk about ESA for a minute:
We are still waiting for the Supreme Court rulings. There has been no word on when that will come or how Justices will decide.
Yes, I know, the sound of the crickets are killing me too.
While it has been excruciating waiting these past several weeks, I remind myself that compared to most court cases, these ESA lawsuits really have moved at lightning speed. And, that gets me through another day.
For those new to this email list — and there are over 100 newbies this month — you should know ESA applications are being accepted by the treasurer’s office through September 30th at 5:00 P.M.
- If you have previously applied for the ESA, you do not need to reapply. That includes those who enrolled in 2015.
- If you enrolled after January 2016, including new enrollees, due to the injunction, you will not receive a reply or conformation from the treasurer’s office.
- Be sure to mail your applications certified mail and keep your receipt. That is your proof of submission should something happen to your application.
- You must have been enrolled in a public school for the 100 school days immediately preceding your application.
- Do not send your supporting documents with your application.
- Applications must be received in the hands of treasury staff by September 30 at 5:00 p.m. to make this enrollment period. “In the mail” does not qualify.
- You can find applications on NevadaESA.com and the Treasurer’s website.
Additionally, we have some ESA rally pictures and family stories up on NevadaESA.com, so be sure to check them out. Also, several information events are being organized for the upcoming months. So be sure to check out the NevadaESA.com events page often, as we’ll post details as we get things scheduled.
Hopefully, the next time you hear from me will be so I can say that the ESA injunction has been lifted. I have faith!!
It’s bad enough that Americans are facing fewer and fewer health insurance options, but the massive increase in cost is beginning to take its toll as well. Under Obamacare — officially known as the Affordable Care Act — consumers in 19 states will be facing double digit rate hikes in 2017 as insurance companies struggle to remain profitable under new regulations. (Read more)
The National Labor Relations Board says graduate students at private universities should have the right to organize as a labor union. On Tuesday, the board ruled that graduate students at Columbia University were within their rights to form a labor union for their work as teaching assistants. (Read more)
Many politicians have been quick to blame “corporate greed” for the massive price increase consumers are facing for EpiPens — an emergency medical device used by individuals with severe allergies. What is not being mentioned, however, is that the federal government is responsible for protecting the monopoly that has made such price gauging possible. A little less government, and a little more free-market competition, would do far more to lower prices than piling on a mountain of costly regulations. (Read more)
The Department of Energy has been aggressively adding countless new energy-efficiency regulations over the course of the last several years. Just since June, the DOE has set or initiated standards for dehumidifiers, ceiling fans, battery chargers, and wine coolers. Even the little light underneath your microwave is subject to energy efficiency regulations. The end result is that consumers are faced with increasingly fewer choices when it comes to every-day household appliances. (Read more)
The slowest recovery on record continues to grind along — but at a much slower pace than originally thought. Despite initial estimates already being lower than economists had hoped for, estimated second quarter GDP growth has been revised downward. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the economy grew a mere 1.1 percent in the second quarter of 2016. (Read more)
Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign may be over, but he still has plans to bring about a political “revolution.” Sanders announced a new non-profit this week, dedicated to spurring his followers into action. “And let me — speaking only for myself — tell you what to me the political revolution means. And it means to me nothing less than the transforming of the United States of America,” Sanders told the crowd. (Read more)
National Employee Freedom Week (August 14-20)
The National Labor Relations Board isn’t nearly as interested in protecting workers’ rights as it is in protecting the revenue union leaders receive from dues-paying members. If it was really interested in protecting the average worker, the NLRB would be far more interested in preserving and even promoting an employee’s right to choose. (Read more)
In response to a question from a reporter about the sustainability of businesses that take subsidies, Elon Musk said Tesla didn’t really even need the $1.3 billion in tax benefits given by the state of Nevada. “It was important that Nevada offer that package just to show that they cared,” explained Musk. Silver State lawmakers must have really touched his heart when they approved the tenth largest subsidy in U.S. history. (Read more)
How free are Nevadans? The Cato Institute has a new interactive map that shows the level of freedom enjoyed by citizens in each state. The good news is Nevada is still freer than most. The bad news is that the Silver State has been moving the wrong direction on the freedom index for over a decade. (Read more)
The percentage of Americans aged 18–64 covered by private health insurance in 2015 was roughly the same as it was prior to the passage of Obamacare. In addition to not substantially increasing the number of privately insured adults, Obamacare has also resulted in a large number of citizens moving to Medicaid — thereby straining government budgets. Furthermore, due to the Affordable Care Act’s impact on premium prices, many adults are now unable to afford the climbing costs, and are simply foregoing coverage as a result. (Read more)
Socialist ideas have been dominant in Brazil since they first took root there in the late 19th Century, interrupted only by a period of military dictatorship late last century. The country is now facing difficult times as it faces corruption, cronyism and economic decline. But there’s a silver lining: The concept of economic liberty is beginning to take hold among younger generations. As young libertarians are saying in Brazil, “Menos Marx, mais Mises.” (Read more)
Let me start by saying, there has been no decision, yet. And, I’m sorry if I made your heart skip a beat. But, it’s been a few weeks and I wanted to check in, provide the latest news with Nevada’s educational choice programs and give a little run down of July’s awesome ESA rally.
But first, I want to extend my heartfelt “thank you!” to all the parents, children and ESA supporters who came out to the ESA rally at the courthouse. I also want to thank everyone who showed up to the Guinn Room at the Capitol and for the many, many good wishes and prayers for a successful rally and favorable decision! Nevada parents rock!
While we are all on pins and needles awaiting the ESA court decisions, there are a few things to update. First, ESA enrollment is currently OPEN.
- Applications in English and Spanish can be found onNevadaESA.com or the Treasurer’s website. You will find a direct link to the applications here.
- Applications will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. on September 30. Remember, applications must be stamped “received” in the hands of the treasury by the deadline. In the mail or postmarked is not sufficient.
- Mail or hand deliver your applications to State of Nevada Treasurer’s Office C/O Grant Hewitt, . Or, you can hand deliver applications to the Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Office at the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas located at 555 Washington Ave.
- Remember, five- and six-year-olds and active duty military families are exempt from the 100 day eligibility requirement
- Do not send in your supporting documents. You will be asked to upload them once the injunction is lifted (I have faith).
In other education-choice news, tax scholarship (AB 165) acceptance letters for this school year have been mailed out to families. Congratulations to all! This year, the program is capped at $5.5 million. And, remember, the state Department of Education has confirmed families can combine the tax scholarship with the ESA. That’s a possibility of over $13,000 to help families pay for private school tuition.
Two new scholarship granting organizations are in Nevada. They are holding off on funding until the 2017-18 school year. However, be sure to watch their websites for application information.
The ACSI Children Education Fund will open applications September 1. So be sure to get your applications in early. Unfortunately, America’s Scholarship Konnection, or ASK, which was gearing up to award scholarships later this school year, will also be holding off until next year. However, the organization says it is excited to come to Nevada and looks forward to serving Nevada families. So, watch the ASK website for applications.
Now to the news that still has me giddy. The ESA rally at the courthouse was AH-MAZING! There must have been at least 300 people rallying support for ESA. We are getting pictures and video up onNevadaESA.com. If you have any pictures you want to share, you can email them to me at email@example.com. We would love to have pictures of the folks in Carson City! I hear it was quite full in the Guinn Room.
The ESA rally speakers were phenomenal. Their stories cut to the core of why ESAs are so badly needed in Nevada.
Shannon shared an all too familiar story of school officials urging her to medicate her son, rather than addressing his disability needs. As a special education advocate for nearly 10 years, it was disheartening to hear that such archaic practices are still implemented in Nevada public schools.
We also heard from Sgt. Delk and Jen Hanely, who shared their experiences of the educational sacrifices military families make while serving our country. Not only must military families uproot their children from friends and school quite often, but they also have no say in the public education system their children then attend. Whether that system is ranked Number 1 or — like Nevada — Number 49, their children attend schools where the families are stationed. Education Savings Accounts give Nevada military families options and opportunities otherthan 49th.
There wasn’t a dry eye — including my own — when Rita told the story of her journey. Zoned for a 5-Star Exemplary School, Rita thought her daughter would receive a top-notch education. But school officials failed to provide any English Language Learner (ELL) programs necessary to provide her young kindergartener with a solid educational foundation. Rita, a single working mother and UNLV student, was awarded a tax scholarship and applied for the ESA. Despite the opposition’s claims that families like Rita’s will not be accepted into Nevada’s elite private schools, Rita’s daughter was accepted into — not one, but, two — premier private schools.
And young Taliyah Wilson — a 14-year-old student embarking on her high school career in a long-time failing high school — hit to the heart of why ESAs are so important when she shared her fears of becoming just another statistic, just another number in an already overcrowded, failing system. Chained by her zip code to a school that’s been ranked as failing for at least 10 years, Taliyah asked the Justices to please allow the opportunity for kids like her to attend a school of their choice. With the ESA, Taliyah intends to go to a private school which will “focus on [her] gifts and talents.” You can read Taliyah’s story and that of other Nevada families here.
Okay, that’s a long read. But, I just had to share the highlights of the ESA rally. It truly was an amazing event — inspirational!