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EDITORIAL: State's taxpayers can't afford expensive PERS

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Las Vegas Review-Journal

Nevada’s public employee pension fund is well-managed and actuarially sound when compared against those of other states, according to an independent review of the plan requested by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The report by AonHewitt might seem like good news to the taxpaying public, thereby reducing the urgency of politically perilous pension reforms. As reported Tuesday by the Review-Journal’s Sean Whaley, the report says the Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada is positioned to be fully funded in the decades ahead, provided it continues to average at least 8 percent annual returns on its investments.

But the best argument for pension reform is not how Nevada’s fund compares to those of other states. It’s how public employee pension benefits compare to the compensation and retirement options available to the taxpayers who fund the pension system. Which is to say they don’t.

That’s because the defined-benefit pension has all but vanished from the business world. Portable savings plans such as 401(k)s have taken their place, and many companies can no longer afford to provide matching contributions. Workers largely are on their own in saving for retirement, with the insolvent Social Security system as a backstop to poverty.


Las Vegas Review-Journal