February PERS payouts now available on TransparentNevada

LAS VEGAS — The second month of pension payout data released by Nevada PERS is now online and searchable at TransparentNevada.com/NVPERS, the Nevada Policy Research Institute announced today. Retiree payouts for February 2014 have been combined with January amounts and provide an even more complete picture of what retirees are making.

Eighty-nine percent of Nevada’s nearly 50,000 PERS retirees received the exact same amount in February as they did in January.

Of the 11 percent of retirees who received different amounts in January and February, 10 percent received more in February. The remaining 1 percent was broken between 0.7 percent who received less, and 0.3 percent who left or entered the system between the two months. Pensioners who received the same amount in January and February are identified by a check mark next to their payout amounts.

Responding to the new information, Andy Matthews, president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, issued the following remarks:

Adding February payouts to TransparentNevada shows, yet again, why it’s imperative for PERS to fully comply with the Nevada Supreme Court’s order, rather than fight it, and release previous years and types of data. These PERS payouts show a system where payouts have spiraled out of control.

Combining January and February payouts reveals that over 1,000 retirees are poised to make more than $100,000 this year. More than 20 percent — 10,775 — are projected to receive more than Nevada’s median household income of $54,083 this year in retirement payments. Notably, some PERS retirees begin collecting “retirement” benefits in their 40s.

Even the information on TransparentNevada understates the benefits received in many cases, because these payouts do not include disability payouts or the cost of health benefits.

PERS is taxpayer-backed and terribly underfunded — according to normal accounting standards, its unfunded liability is over $40 billion. This is something that should not only concern taxpayers, but public retirees. As we are seeing in Detroit, in the face of bankruptcy, not even public pensions are safe.

Numerous retired public employees with high PERS payouts had the exact same gross payouts in January and February. These include:

  • Michael K. McClary, an assistant sheriff with Las Vegas Metro, whose $181,563.20 base pay in 2010 has turned into a projected 2014 pension of $208,797.72.
  • Gregory McCurdy, another assistant sheriff with Las Vegas Metro, who turned $174.267.60 in base pay in 2012 into a projected 2014 pension of $186,354.48.
  • Barbara Ginoulias, director of comprehensive planning for Clark County, who received $156,219.20 in base pay in 2008 and is on pace to receive $171,608.76 in 2014 pension payouts.

“Making more in retirement than your highest base salary shows either that employees are spiking their pensions or a pension system that is completely broken,” said Matthews. “It’s probably both, but we can’t confirm this until PERS releases more information. We urge Nevada courts to enforce the full spirit of the Supreme Court’s ruling and force PERS to fully comply with Nevada’s public-records law.”

Most of the projections of high-paying pensions highlighted by NPRI and the media when TransparentNevada published January payouts remain the same or have increased when accounting for the second month of data. For example:

  • Donald C. O'Shaughnessy, a former Clark County fire battalion chief, made $109,113.72 in base pay in 2009 but is projected to pocket pension payouts in 2014 of $238,772.16.
  • Randall Walker, former aviation director for Clark County, made $229,091.20 in base pay in 2012 and is on pace to collect $222,949.56 in pension payouts.
  • Current State Sen. Joyce Woodhouse is projected to receive $101,716.44 this year in retirement payouts.
  • Former Assembly speaker John Oceguera is projected to receive $120,137.40 in yearly payouts.
  • Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony is projected to receive $146,984.52.

PERS has pledged to provide NPRI with monthly payout data going forward. TransparentNevada and retirees' projected yearly payouts will be updated to reflect the new data, when available.

Since 2008, NPRI has operated TransparentNevada as a public service. Last year, it received over 1.98 million page views.

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