Posts Tagged ‘pay’

Interim Lawmaker Panel OKs Drafting Resolution To Provide For Study Of Legislature, Including Pay, Annual Sessions

By Sean Whaley | 4:18 pm August 20th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A legislative panel today voted to seek a resolution in the 2013 session to authorize the creation of a public commission to study the operation of the Legislature and make recommendations on issues ranging from lawmaker pay to moving to annual sessions.

The Legislative Commission’s Committee To Study the Structure and Operations of the Nevada Legislature voted to pursue such a review, which has not occurred in Nevada since 1988. The study would be performed by a public commission which could make recommendations for consideration by the 2015 Legislature.

Details of who would serve on the public commission, along with other aspects of such a review, will be worked out in committee hearings in the 2013 session that will start next February.

Currently the Nevada constitution requires the Legislature meet every other year for 120 days. The constitution also limits legislative pay to the first 60 days of a session and imposes term limits for state lawmakers. Voters would have to approve any changes to these requirements before they could take effect.

While the legislative panel approved the drafting of a resolution providing for a public commission to review these and potentially other legislative rules and mandates, one lawmaker said he will reserve judgment until he sees the final working of the proposal.

“I’m all for studying virtually anything and this is certainly a topic worthy of study,” said Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, a member of the panel. “But I don’t want to mislead the chair of the committee. I’m not convinced that creating a commission is necessary, especially in light of the fact that this committee has been meeting throughout the interim to do largely what the commission would do.

“But I will keep an open mind on that, and I will look at the resolution once it is created as a result of this committee’s work, and I will study it carefully during the next session,” he said.

Before the discussion on the resolution, the committee heard from former state Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, who now serves as a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission. Townsend was termed out of office in 2010. He had served in the Senate since 1983.

Former state Sen. Randolph Townsend. / Photo courtesy of Project Vote Smart.

Townsend suggested a number of ideas for the Legislature to consider, including changing the length of terms for state Senators from four years to six, and for Assembly members from two years to four, to reduce the frequency of campaigns that he said interfere in the legislative process.

“Whether you change term limits or not, I think you take a lot of the money and vitriol out of these things,” he said. “Because it’s gotten to the point where campaigns overcome policy making, and that is not fair to any of you no matter what party you are in or what section of the state you live in.”

Townsend also suggested that legislative sessions be changed to even-numbered years if there is no move to have annual sessions. Those elected to the Legislature in each general election every November in even numbered years would then have more than a full year to learn the legislative process before a session would begin. Now lawmakers are elected in November and must start a session early the following year, he said.

“Move it off a year,” Townsend said. “Leadership can appoint those folks to their interim committees, and they can start learning the process, and the issues, and their colleagues and the people that they affect. That one single change will make every legislator better, whether you’ve been there a long time or whether you are new.”

The change would also mean a shorter campaign season for lawmakers if sessions continued to end in early June in even-numbered years, Townsend said.

Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the interim study committee, questioned how lawmakers would raise campaign funds in such a scenario but said such issues can be discussed at a later date.

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Audio clips:

Sen. Greg Brower says he is not convinced such a study is needed but will consider the issue in the 2013 session:

082012Brower :32 the next session.”

Former state Sen. Randolph Townsend says Assembly terns should be four years and Senate terms six years:

082012Townsend1 :11 you live in.”

Townsend says legislative sessions should be moved to even-numbered years:

082012Townsend2 :24 you are new.”

Nevada State Lawmakers Won’t See Pay Increase In 2011 Session

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:32 pm January 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – If it is any consolation to cash-strapped state workers, Nevada’s lawmakers will see no pay hike this session and a smaller daily per diem allowance as well.

The 21 members of the state Senate and 42 members of the Assembly will be paid $146.29 a day for the first 60 days of the session starting Feb. 7, the same amount as paid in 2009 to most lawmakers. Some state senators in mid-term earned slightly less.

Lawmakers are entitled to pay hikes based on the salary increases awarded to state employees, but there were no pay hikes approved in the 2009 session. State employees actually are seeing a 4.6 percent loss in pay because of the mandate to take a one-day-a-month unpaid furlough in the current budget.

So lawmakers will earn $8,777 in pay for their service in the 2011 session. Their pay stops after 60 days as specified in the state constitution.

Lawmakers also get reimbursed for daily expenses, but this amount will actually decline from the 2009 session. The per diem rate is based on the federal rate for Carson City, which is $154 a day. In the 2009 session, the rate was $167, so lawmakers will actually see a 7.8 percent reduction.

For the 120 days of the session, the per diem for lawmakers will total $18,480.

Las Vegas City Manager Says Management Not Subject to Same Hours and Pay Reduction, Forced Furloughs as City Workers

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:14 am October 28th, 2010

At least one City of Las Vegas union member is not too happy this week, evidenced by my receipt of a rather pointed email which had attached to it an email sent Tuesday to executive/salaried city employees by city manager Betsy Fretwell.

You may recall that recently the Las Vegas City Employee Association agreed to a 38 hour work week with a two hour reduction in pay. In addition, forced furloughs during Christmas week dictated that city employees cannot take leave in order to make up the loss in pay.

In the email below, the city manager appears to deliver to the executive staff the good news that city management will not be subject to the same two hour reduction in pay as hourly city employees. Fretwell also informs management they may use leave to cover the  holiday furlough days if they so choose.

Here is the first page of the email containing the information above:

LV City email to execs 10 26 10

Angle Votes to Raise Legislative Pay Confirmed, Spokesperson Calls Lowden Attack Ad “Desperate”

By Sean Whaley | 1:39 pm May 21st, 2010

CARSON CITY – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sue Lowden has a new ad attacking her GOP rival Sharron Angle over her past votes in the Nevada Legislature to raise lawmaker pay as the June 8 primary draws near and early voting is set to begin tomorrow.

Lowden, who is seeking the GOP nod to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in the November general election, also issued a release this week charging that Angle twice voted to raise her own pay while a member of the Nevada Assembly.

The release came after Angle on Wednesday denied in a radio interview ever voting to raise her own pay.

Lowden spokesman Robert Uithoven then responded with this statement: “For years, campaign after campaign, Sharron has run on the motto of ‘Don’t read my lips, read my record.’ It is clearly stated in the Assembly record that Sharron voted to raise her pay not once, but twice, while serving in the state Assembly. Sharron invites Nevadans to support her based on her record. Therefore, they have a right to know the truth.”

“As a fiscal conservative, Sue has never voted to increase her salary,” Uithoven said.

The legislative record shows that Angle voted to raise her own pay in 2001. Then, in 2005, she voted for Senate Joint Resolution 11, which asked voters in 2006 to amend the state constitution to allow lawmakers to be paid for every day of a legislative session rather than the 60 days limited in the constitution currently.

Since sessions now last 120 days, the resolution would have doubled lawmaker pay if voters had approved the ballot question.

Voters rejected Question 11 in 2006 by 70 percent to 30 percent.

In 2001, Angle was one of 36 members of the Assembly who voted for Assembly Bill 606, which would have raised legislative pay from $130 a day for the first 60 days of a legislative session to $175 a day for the first 60 days, a 35 percent increase.

Under the measure, lawmakers would not have received the pay increase until they stood for re-election.

The bill passed the Assembly but never saw a vote in the Senate. The bill also proposed to raise the pay of other public officials.

Lowden is week noted that as a state senator in 1995, she voted against a bill to raise her own pay.

Angle campaign spokesman Jerry Stacy said the 2001 bill was “convoluted,” containing numerous pay provisions for many different elected officials. The small section on legislative pay “just got by her,” he said. As to the 2005 vote, Stacy said Angle was already planning to run for Congress and so knew it would not affect her.

Angle voted against three other legislative pay measures, Stacy said.

“Clearly Sharron has never tried to benefit from any her votes in the Legislature,” he said.  “They’ve spent thousands of dollars doing research. If this is the best they can come up with, they are pretty desperate.”

Old Media, New Media & What’s Next

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:53 pm March 12th, 2010

A clever historical spin on one of my favorite topics (in light of failing print newspaper models, what’s next for the world of media and journalism)?  Author of this piece says do like Cortez and, “Burn the boats.”

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:22 pm February 11th, 2010

Thought I was done working, but took one more peek at Twitter and saw Ralston posted this a short time ago:

State employees asked to choose lesser of three evils

By Jon Ralston · February 11, 2010 · 8:30 PM

That’s what the state personnel department asked of state employees today in a confidential survey requested by lawmakers. Here’s the key question with the three choices:

In the face of the current and projected State budget shortfall, emergency measures must be taken to swiftly address State employee payroll costs. The options listed below are under consideration and would be in addition to the current furlough.

Please rank these options in order of your preference:

(1 = most preferred, 3 = least preferred)

4/10′s work week with additional 2 hour furlough

6% salary reduction

Eliminate holiday pay

Hm.  If it were me, I’d…do the math.  Although the four 10s would be tempting regardless.

Government Efficiency Panel Calls for Reform to State Employee Pay and Benefit Package

By Sean Whaley | 7:07 pm January 7th, 2010

CARSON CITY – A final report from a panel of private citizens charged with finding efficiencies in state government says the generous salary and benefit package provided to the state workforce is “unaffordable in the short run and unsustainable in the long run.”

“The sooner Nevada addresses this, and the sooner total government employee compensation is brought into parity with the private sector, the sooner the state will achieve a balanced budget allowing it to provide needed citizen services at desired levels,” says the final report from the Nevada Spending and Government Efficiency Commission (SAGE) in a report delivered today to Gov. Jim Gibbons.

“Dealing with this issue alone will save half of all the money contained in the Sage Commission’s recommendations,” said SAGE Chairman Bruce James.

Other findings in the report include:

- The state budgeting process is archaic and in need of revision. The process itself distracts everyone from agency personnel to members of the Legislature from focusing on the big picture by being forced to deal with minutia. We saw example after example of the same basic public services being provided by multiple agencies in a duplicative fashion without any coordination.

- Operating with 200 different units and agencies is unmanageable. In the government sector it seems that once an entity or program is established it seldom goes away regardless of efficacy. The result is a waste of public resources. AS a result, the SAGE Commission has recommended establishing the Nevada Sunset Commission to ensure periodic review of every state government entity and program to make certain it is still doing what it was established to do, is still necessary, and is cost efficient.

- The state needs to address its real estate portfolio. Nevada does not have a real estate plan and it lacks a complete inventory, in one place, of its raw land, improved real estate, leased real estate, and water and mineral rights.

- Nevada state officials lose out on millions of dollars in federal grants because there is no strategic, managed focus on this opportunity as other states do. This should be a full-out, statewide effort involving all jurisdictions eligible for such grants.

James said the SAGE Commissioners spent a lot of their own time and money to provide the 44 money saving and efficiency creating recommendations.

“Just as SAGE commissioners did in their work, we hope our elected public officials can now set aside their partisan differences to put the public’s interest first,” he said.

Gibbons established the SAGE Commission in 2008 as a non-partisan group of professionals who have volunteered their time to seek ways for Nevada government to save money, work more effectively, and perform more efficiently.

“I am delighted with the work of the SAGE Commission, and I am anxious to examine their newest recommendations and work to implement them,” he said after receiving the final report.

Gibbons said he has supported the vast majority of the SAGE Commission’s recommendations over the last year-and-a-half, but that most of the ideas have not been embraced by the Legislature.

“I will continue to pursue implementation of the SAGE Commission recommendations,” Gibbons said. “This Legislature simply must realize that they cannot continue to crush working families by raising taxes and increasing spending.”

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said the Legislature has examined and given careful consideration to the SAGE Commission recommendations. The Legislature did enact some changes to the state retirement system and health benefit plans for new hires this past session, she said.

“But there was a pretty strong bipartisan feeling that it would be unfair to go back on agreements we have made in the past where state employees gave up salary increases to have better health care, for example,” Leslie said.

There seems to be a sense from the commission that the Legislature is not taking its recommendations seriously, which is not the case, she said.

The idea of reorganizing the many units of state government to improve efficiency is worth looking at, Leslie said. But some of Gibbons’ proposed reorganizations, such as combining the Commissions on Tourism and Economic Development, were not well thought out, she said.

Leslie said there are always efficiencies to be found in state government. That is why the Legislature‘s Audit Subcommittee constantly reviews state agency operations.

But absent some big reorganization or cutting a big chunk of money out of the budget, cost savings from such efficiencies are likely to be minimal, she said.

Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, said many of the SAGE recommendations have been ignored by the Legislature, just as past recommendations from previous reviews were ignored. Any changes that are adopted are usually modest, he said.

If some of the recommendations of past reviews had been accepted, Nevada might not be in such dire financial circumstances right now, he said.

But Settelmeyer said he does not believe state employees are excessively compensated. Settelmeyer said he would support a change to the state benefit program for new hires, but not current workers.

“On new hires, we have to change the system,” he said. “We need to change from a defined benefit to a defined contribution system.”

Rather than look at current state employee pay and benefits, Settelmeyer said he would like to see a comprehensive review of programs created over the past several sessions when times were good to see if some can be eliminated. Eliminating new programs the state can’t afford could help get the budget back in balance, he said.

Assembly Republicans Taking Voluntary Pay Cuts Equal to State Employee Salary Reductions

By Sean Whaley | 3:46 pm December 16th, 2009

CARSON CITY – Republican members of the state Assembly said today they are following through on a commitment made in January to take salary reductions equal to the pay cuts imposed on state employees as a result of the 2009 legislative session.

Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, who also serves as the Assembly minority leader, said checks equaling a 4.6 percent reduction in pay for each Republican member of the Assembly will be sent to the state every six months. Since lawmakers are not in session, pay is received only for attending interim legislative meetings, and it made more sense to cut a check twice a year rather than on a more frequent basis, she said.

Suggestions in news reports earlier this month that lawmakers were not sharing in the pain of pay cuts is not the case for Assembly Republicans, Gansert said.

“We pledged early on to take any pay cuts state employees had to take,” she said. “It has just been an accounting issue for us.”

Checks were being sent today by Assembly Republicans to the state general fund.

“We believe it is important for elected leaders to match the sacrifices being asked of others,” Gansert said. “We shouldn’t ask anything of state personnel that we are not willing to accept for ourselves.”

Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, agreed, saying: “We are all in this together. State government must make painful cuts during these times and we all need to do our part to share the sacrifice.”

The 2009 Legislature approved a one-day-a-month furlough plan for most state workers as a way to help balance the budget. The unpaid day off equates to a 4.6 percent pay cut that began July 1.

Lawmakers get paid for the first 60 days of each legislative session held in odd-numbered years, but are paid only for attending sporadic meetings in the interim. The current pay for attending a legislative meeting is $146.29.

Some lawmakers are on more interim committees and attend more meetings than others.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported Dec. 16 that only one lawmaker, Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, had taken a pay cut and returned $526.65 to the state.

But Gansert said all 14 Assembly Republicans are committed to taking the pay cuts as well.