Retiring in the lap of luxury

Nevada government pensions are often better than paychecks

By Victor Joecks, Robert Fellner
  • Thursday, January 22, 2015
Public employees in Nevada often get a raise upon retirement, new @NevadaPolicyRI study shows:
.@NVPERS has an unfunded liability of over $40 billion. Here's why:
Want to know what government retirees in Nevada are getting paid? New data on TransparentNevada.com has it all:

Executive summary

Nevada’s Public Employee Retirement System faces an unfunded liability of over $40 billion, and only once, from 2002 to 2013, has the system made its 8 percent actuarial investment returns needed to meet its future obligations.

That has required pension contributions to police and fire personnel to jump, over that same period, from 28.5 percent of salaries to 40.5 percent. For regular government employees, the PERS contributions from taxpayers and workers rose from 18.75 percent of salaries to 25.75 percent.

PERS has another, systemic problem. Its inflated payouts to retiring workers are the reason it faces such large bills in the first place. Only recently, because of a court ruling last year, has PERS had to release retiree names, payouts, years of service and last employer — allowing systematic, independent study of the payout issue for the first time.

Now, however, the new information — combined with seven years of state and local government salary data on TransparentNevada — makes it possible to create one-to-one comparisons of retirees’ pay vis-a-vis their pensions.

This analysis examines 10 of Nevada’s largest government agencies and compares the full-year equivalent 2013 retirement payouts of 2011-2013 retirees who had 30 years of service or more with their final-year base pay.

The agencies include seven local governments: Clark County, Washoe County, Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Reno and Las Vegas Metro. Also included in the analysis are Nevada’s two largest school districts, Clark County and Washoe County, and the State of Nevada.

For the seven municipal governments, full- career retirees are receiving pensions worth 100.59 percent of their final full year of base pay. For Clark and Washoe County School Districts, that number was 89.14 percent. State of Nevada retirees received pensions worth 83.71 percent of their final base pay . Of all government retirees, police and fire retirees had the highest pensions, which soared to over 114 percent of retirees’ base pay.

Nevada taxpayers are providing extraordinarily high pensions — far above what they themselves can expect upon retirement — to what has become, by stealth, a privileged class.

Download the full analysis