Advocacy, Research & Public Policy Reports

Where the Chamber Stands...

As a data-driven organization, the Chamber utilizes public policy and research reports to advocate, educate and promote important legislation within our community. This helps further economic development, support regional competitiveness and maintain a pro-business environment for Chamber members, like your business. The Chamber commissions Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis to help determine where taxpayer dollars are currently being spent and to provide a factual foundation from which the Chamber can make informed public policy recommendations on behalf of the business community.

K-12 Education Policy Reports:

Achievement in America: Where Are We? What Can We Do? Critical Steps for Nevada

During a recent address to the Metro Chamber Education Policy Committee, Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust, presented the educational landscape in the United States and how Nevada compares. During the presentation, Haycock offered ideas, suggestions and steps to move forward to give the students of Southern Nevada the best opportunities to graduate high school and prepare for college and the workforce.

Download the presentation.

Public Employee Compensation Reports:

FISCAL Analysis Brief, Volume 4, Issue 1

State-to-State Comparison of Public Employee CompensationLevels - 2010

Summary: Average annual salaries for Nevada’s state and local government workers rose 3.1 percent in 2010, or from $56,900 to $58,600. Total annual state and local government full-time equivalent employment declined 1.1 percent, while total payrolls rose approximately 2.0 percent, or from $6.6 billion to $6.7 billion. Nevada's state and local government employees' earnings equated to 115.1 percent of the national average (i.e., $50,900) in 2010, up from 113.3 percent in the prior tear. The average salary for state and local government workers nationwide rose 1.5 percent in 2010, or less than half of the increase reported in Nevada. Nationwide, total state and local government full-time equivalent employment declined by 0.3 percent, while total payrolls rose 1.2 percent, or from $834.5 billion in 2009 to $844.9 billion in 2010. Despite the higher-than-average salary escalation, Nevada's public workers dropped one spot in the rankings to 10th highest paid in the nation in 2010, down from the 9th place spot in 2009.

State-to-State Comparison of Public Employee Compensation Levels - 2009

FISCAL Analysis Brief, Volume 3, Issue 1

Summary: The report shows that despite unprecedented drops in tax revenue and cuts to government services, Nevada's state and local public employees are the 9th highest paid in the United States, with average salaries that rose 2.2 percent in 2009. Of the 29 job categories reviewed, Nevada's public employees placed in the top three nationally 12 times, and in the top five 17 times.

Nevada's local government workers, excluding teachers, report wage payments 129 percent of the national average. Topping the list of highest paid workers are firefighters (149 percent of the national average); water supply employees (144 percent of the national average); other fire employees (139 percent of the national average); and sewerage employees (133 percent of the national average).

The report includes local and county government salaries throughout Nevada, in addition to Clark County, Las Vegas and Henderson. In addition, Nevada continued to rank last in terms of the number of state and local government employees per 1,000 residents, indicating that although Nevada has some of the best-paid public employees, there are fewer employees providing services to the people of the state.

State-to-State Comparison of Public Employee Compensation Levels - 2008

FISCAL Analysis Brief, Volume 2, Issue 1

Summary: The report shows that Nevada public employees' salaries continue to climb and they remain among the highest paid state and local government employees in the country. From 2006 to 2008, Nevada public employees jumped from the 8th highest paid up to the 6th highest paid in the U.S. Nevada's state and local government employees were paid more than the national average in all but four of the 29 job classifications. State workers' average annual salary of $55,300 was 107 percent of the national average. (Furloughs of state workers effectively lowered wages of state employees by nearly 5 percent, but occurred in 2009 and, therefore, are not included in 2008 statistics.) By contrast, local government employees (excluding teachers) make 131 percent of the national average. The report includes local and county government salaries throughout Nevada, in addition to Clark County, Las Vegas and Henderson. In addition, Nevada continued to rank dead last in terms of the number of state and local government employees per 1,000 residents, despite an increase from 41.4 public employees per 1000 population in 2006 to 43.7 in 2008 The U.S. average is 54.8.

An Overview and Comparative Analysis of the Nevada Public Employees' Retirement System

FISCAL Analysis Brief, Volume 1, Issue 3

Summary: The report reveals that PERS is only 77 percent funded, leaving a $6.3 billion unfunded liability, and placing the state in the bottom third of the nation in terms of funding level. The report states that "large underfunded long-term liabilities put future budgets at risk, potentially affecting state funding for education and health care."

Nevada's contribution rates of 20.5 percent of salary for regular employees and 33.5 percent of salary for fire and police employees rank as the nation's 2nd and 3rd highest, respectively.

After between 28 and 30 years of service for regular employees, 25 years for police and fire, PERS guarantees public employees a pension of at least 75 percent of their highest 3 years of salary per year for the rest of their lives.

Nevada PERS has one of the highest "service credits," otherwise known as a "formula multiplier," in the nation at 2.67. A high service credit effectively increases benefits and/or decreases the service time required to receive full benefits. For example, Nevada recently increased the service credit from 2.50 to 2.67 with the effect of lowering the necessary service time to receive full lifetime benefits from 30 years to 28 years.

State-to-State Comparison of Public Employee Compensation Levels - Revised

FISCAL Analysis Brief, Volume 1, Issue 2

Summary: This report compares Nevada's public employees' salaries to the national average. It compares as combined state and local employees to national average, and also compares state public employee salaries and local public employee salaries separately to the national average. The research compared wages only and did not include any benefits.

Nevada's average public employee pay ranks 8th highest among public sector pay in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. For example, a public sector parks and recreation employee in Nevada makes an average of $42,645 a year. The average compensation for a public sector parks and recreation employee in the United States is just $35,757.

On average, Nevada's state and local government employees report wages and salaries 12.1% higher than their public sector counterpart in other states.

The state of Nevada's average public employee makes 102.4% of the national average paid to public sector employees, while local government employees in Nevada, excluding teachers, make 131% of the national average. Teachers in Nevada make 93.5% of the national average.

Local government employees are paid 124% more than the national average in 15 out of 24 major job categories.

Nevada's number of public sector employees per capita is the lowest in the nation.

Comparative Analysis of Public and Private Employee Compensation Levels

FISCAL Analysis Brief, Volume 1, Issue 1

Summary: This report studied disparity between pay in the private and public sectors. It compared median and average annual wages in 324 classifications and sub-classifications for which data was available for both public and private workers. The study compared wages only, and did not include benefits such as health care insurance or retirement benefits.

In the 22 major occupational classifications that were compared, state and local government employees report higher median annual wages in 21 categories compared to their private sector counterparts.

96.3% of all state and local workers are employed in major occupational classifications in which the median pay is higher than the median pay for private sector workers in the same classification.

While a government employee in Nevada is paid an average $47,450 a year, a private sector employee is paid an average of $37,040 a year.

On average, a Nevada public sector employee is paid roughly 28% more than a private sector employee in a similar job classification.

For the 324 occupational classifications and sub-classifications, state and local employees median wages are at least 10-percent higher than those in the private sector in 63.2% of occupational classifications; at least 25% higher in 35.5% of classifications; and at least 50% higher in 13.6 percent of occupational classifications.

State Retiree Insurance Subsidy Report:

An Overview and Comparative Analysis of Nevada's State Retiree Health Insurance Subsidy

FISCAL Analysis Brief, Volume 1, Issue 4

Summary: PEBP gives state public employee retirees and their dependents a monthly subsidy toward their retirement health insurance, a benefit widely unavailable in the private sector. The State Retiree Health Insurance Subsidy currently has a $4 billion unfunded liability and has no mechanism in place to fund this commitment, according to the report.

Nevada treats the subsidy on a pay-as-you-go basis, making payments from the General Fund to pay only the current year's premium for current retirees. The current year premium for FY2009 is $44 million, representing just 15 percent of the $287 million Annual Required Contribution (ARC), the actuarial amount necessary to pay the unfunded liability in 30 years. This 15 percent is the third lowest contribution rate in the nation.

If Nevada continues to pay for this benefit on a pay-as-you-go basis, the $44 million FY2009 cost will rise to approximately $200 million in 2023 and $600 million in 2038.

Retired employees are eligible for the subsidy with as little as 5 years of service, and there is no lifetime cap on the subsidy. Retirees with 20 years or more of service receive a monthly stipend of $564.41, or nearly $6,800 per year for the remainder of their life. In many instances, they receive the subsidy for more years than they have worked for the state.

Nevada State Budget and Tax System Reports:

An Overview of State Budget Practices: Caps, Reserves, and Interim Administration

FISCAL Analysis Brief, Volume 1, Issue 6

Summary: The report found that "the combination of an illusory state expenditure cap, a propensity to underfund reserve accounts and the common practice of using one-time surpluses to capitalize recurring government programs have as much to do with the state's current budget crisis as the continuing economic slowdown."

The report analyzed state budgeting practices including expenditure "caps", amounts contributed to budget reserves and stabilization funds, and the role and practices of the administration and legislature. The report has found that historically, the Nevada State Legislature has only funded the state's reserves at half the allowable levels even during some of the greatest periods of economic growth.

The report says the state "is faced with a clear choice - continue on the same path and repeat the boom-bust funding cycle, or mandate the funding of reserve accounts and enact an approach to budgeting in which something less than 100 percent of revenues projected by the Economic Forum becomes the basis for each biennial budget."

The Relative Stability of Nevada's State Tax System

FISCAL Analysis Brief, Volume 1, Issue 5

Summary: The report looks at tax structure from a variety of angles. The report reveals that Nevada is the 9th most stable nationally on inflation-adjusted tax collections per capita. It also finds that Nevada ranked 27th nationally for state tax collections per $1,000 of personal income; and ranked 43rd nationally in state tax collections as a percent of gross state product.

The report finds that although there has been substantial decline in Nevada's general fund revenue over the past year, "the reality is that every state's tax system is a function of consumption, productivity and/or wealth. When the economy suffers broadly, as is the case in the vast majority of states today, there is no tax system in the nation that is immune to its effects."

The report also examines whether or not local government revenues are more stable than state government revenues. In Nevada, there is a common belief that local governments have an advantage over the state in terms of revenue stability because local government is more dependent upon property taxes, while the state relies more on sales and gaming taxes.

The report finds that this belief is unfounded, and that "the idea that simply trading sales tax for property tax between the state and local level will somehow improve the state's lot lacks foundation."

Policy Papers:

Preliminary Recommendations and Guidelines for Nevada Revised Statutes 288 Fiscal Impact Assessment Requirements

The report is designed to add clarity to changes made to Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) Chapter 288 stemming from the passage of Senate Bill 427 during the 2009 Legislative Session now found in NRS 288.153.

The report states, "SB 427 was ostensibly designed to increase the transparency of the collective bargaining process thereby providing interested parties the information necessary to formulate their own opinions and draw independent conclusions regarding those contracts. This summary is designed to provide guidance from a fiscal impact assessment standpoint as to what should be included and the general form for consistent reporting."

The report was commissioned by the Chamber and prepared by Applied Analysis and Hobbs, Ong & Associates.