Nevada PERS Reform Will not Include Age Hike for Pension Withdrawals

May 22, 2009 ( - Nevada Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera said negotiators have reached a tentative agreement on reforms to the financially strapped Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Oceguera said the tentative agreement does not include a requirement demanded earlier by Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio that no pensions should be given to public employees before they turn 62. Raggio said they had to set the minimum age for public employees to collect retirement benefits at 62, the same as that of Social Security recipients, to get Republican support for a $780 million tax increase plan to balance a $6.8 billion, two-year budget, according to the news report.

The suggestion was abandoned after lobbyists for firefighters and police trashed it during a public hearing. They asked if legislators want 55-year-olds fighting domestic violence suspects or running into burning buildings, the Review-Journal said.

David Kallas, a lobbyist for the Las Vegas Police Protection Association, also questioned the fairness of requiring a 30-year veteran police officer who is 51 to work another 11 years without receiving an increase in retirement benefits.

Oceguera said the agreement does set the service requirement at which public employees can retire at any age and receive full retirement benefits to 30 years. Currently police and firefighters can retire at any age after 25 years of service.

A Las Vegas Sun news report said the agreement also saves money for the system by adjusting cost of living allowances.

The changes will affect employees hired after January 1, 2010.

PERS has about 77% of what it needs to cover the liabilities of current members. PERS Executive Officer Dana Bilyeu said actuaries estimate the system will save more than $142 million a year in coming years if legislators approve the bill, according to the Review-Journal.