Pensions in the News

Robert Fellner

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.


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Robert Fellner

Robert Fellner

Policy Director

Robert Fellner joined the Nevada Policy in December 2013 and currently serves as Policy Director. Robert has written extensively on the issue of transparency in government. He has also developed and directed Nevada Policy’s public-interest litigation strategy, which led to two landmark victories before the Nevada Supreme Court. The first resulted in a decision that expanded the public’s right to access government records, while the second led to expanded taxpayer standing for constitutional challenges in Nevada.

An expert on government compensation and its impact on taxes, Robert has authored multiple studies on public pay and pensions. He has been published in Business Insider,, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register,, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, and elsewhere.

Robert has lived in Las Vegas since 2005 when he moved to Nevada to become a professional poker player. Robert has had a remarkably successfully poker career including two top 10 World Series of Poker finishes and being ranked #1 in the world at 10/20 Pot-Limit Omaha cash games.

Additionally, his economic analysis on the minimum wage won first place in a 2011 George Mason University essay contest. He also independently organized a successful grassroots media and fundraising effort for a 2012 presidential candidate, before joining the campaign in an official capacity.