GOP Assembly leaders propose reforming PERS and prevailing wage

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Updated: 3/07/2013 6:33 pm
CARSON CITY, Nev. ( & KRNV)- Nevada Republicans are divided over ballot initiatives and potential taxes on the mining industry.  GOP Assembly leaders announced today, cutting cost and saving money is on the top of their agenda this session.   Only two days ago, Republican Senators expressed their plan to eventually tax the mining industry, provided a ballot question is approved by voters in 2014. 

Instead, Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, says reforming Nevada's Public Employee Pension System and prevailing wage laws for public works projects will be their priority this session. The goal is to cut cost and save money now.

Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R- Reno, plans on introducing a bill he says will move pensions away from a defined benefit plan to a hybrid system using a combination of both a defined benefit plan and defined contribution plan.  A defined benefit plan is based on a retirees salary and how long they have worked whereas a defined contribution plan is based on how much is put into an individual retirement account, and that money can be transferred if that employee leaves.  "It's 30 million back into the system in the first year," said Kirner.  The plan is to start to chip away at the 11.2 billion in PERS unfunded liability. "We need to resolve the huge unfunded liability. Stop the bleeding and start moving forward with positive retirement system that works," said Kirner.

Assemblyman Crescent Hardy, is also sponsoring a bill exempting school projects from prevailing wage laws, a requirement Republicans contend costs taxpayers millions each year and is not defined by the market but rather inflated union wages. "In Washoe County we have a big need to repair schools. If prevailing wages are exempted for those we would have 20-cents on every dollar to do that many more," said Minority Leader Hickey.

Meanwhile Democratic Caucus members were quick to criticize the announcement, stating Assembly Republicans proposed legislation that solely attacks workers and does nothing to adequately fund education or create jobs.  "I am disappointed to see that republicans are retreading the same partisan attacks they've lobbed in previous Legislative Sessions," said Assembly Majority Leader William Horne.

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