TEXPERS releases enemies list

Geoffrey Lawrence

Whatever happened to the notion of nonpartisan objectivity from official government offices?

Are bureaucrats, while working on the taxpayers’ clock, really supposed to target private citizens as “hostile threats?” That’s a scary notion for any believer in individual liberty. And yet, that’s exactly what’s happened in Texas, where administrators of state and local government workers’ defined-benefit pension system have lashed out against anyone who’s publicly worried that taxpayers might soon struggle to keep up with mounting pension costs for government workers.

As is the case in Nevada and across the country, Texas’ defined-benefit system is drastically underfunded and faces a growing unfunded liability. Because of this, taxpayers’ annual required contributions to the pension system are increasing with each passing year. Some cities and and counties around the nation are seeing their annual retirement contributions rise to well over 20 percent of their annual budget, crowding out their ability to provide critical public services.

That’s precisely why there’s a growing recognition that defined-benefits pension plans for government workers should be converted into either 401(k)-style retirement accounts typical in the private sector or into some form of hybrid plan, as Utah has done. (NPRI has recommended a Utah-style hybrid for Nevada.) This change is intended to protect both taxpayers and government workers who would gain additional flexibility and greater assurance that their pension promises could be upheld. In particular, a Utah-style hybrid or defined-contribution plan would make public-sector employment more attractive for talented, young professionals.

And, yet, in face of these substantive, rational observations, some groups of ill-informed bureaucrats have reflexively attacked reformers in order to protect the status quo while ignoring the potential benefits to government workers of a defined-contribution or hybrid alternative.

This is the most brazen of such attacks to date and I certainly hope it’s not a harbinger of things to come. To its credit, NV PERS has yet to resort to these tactics, but you can see from the presentation developed by TEXPERS below that bureaucrats in Texas are explicitly targeting private citizens and groups as “hostile threats.”

TEXPERS presentation on "hostile threats"

Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.