Posts Tagged ‘reforms’

Construction Defect Reform Measure Criticized As Inadequate By Building Industry

By Sean Whaley | 12:52 pm June 3rd, 2011

CARSON CITY – A bill proposing reforms to Nevada’s construction defects law was called inadequate today in a hearing before the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

John Madole, representing the Nevada Chapter of the Associated General Contractors, told the panel the best option would be to not proceed with Assembly Bill 401, proposed by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas.

Madole said his organization has been seeking meaningful reform to the construction defects law, but that AB401 does not meet that test. Rather than waste time on a bill that is only “rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic,” the committee should defeat the measure, he said.

AB401 would revise provisions regarding attorney’s fees, clarifying that they are not automatic and awarding them only to the prevailing party. It would also clarify the statute of limitations for lawsuits, from unlimited for willful misconduct to three years after discovery.

Committee Chairwoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, asked if the measure at least made some progress on the issue and so could be supported by the construction industry.

“A lot of times it takes time to get them where you want them to be,” she said. “There’s no interest in making changes and having something out of this issue versus nothing?”

Madole said he believes the bill would actually make things worse.

“It’s my opinion that this will actually impede the efforts in 2013 to get meaningful reform,” he said. “I think what will happen in 2013 is that when something is brought forward, that people will be told we took care of this problem in 2011.

“I have taken this to an attorney who is an expert and he told me that in his opinion there are about 15 things that wrong with construction defects,” Madole said. “The language in this bill would not even make the top five, so what’s the sense of just trying to make everybody feel good?”

Madole’s comments prompted Oceguera to call his comments “disingenuous.”

Oceguera said he met with building industry officials, including the associated general contractors, before the 2011 session to discuss necessary reforms. The bill contains the three most important reforms cited in those talks, he said.

“I asked for a list of the five most important things,” Oceguera said. “The three that are in this bill are the top three that you gave to me. So to say these aren’t important issues is disingenuous at least. These are the issues you told me you wanted to work on, and we worked on.”

The issue of reforms to construction defect law is in play as part of a budget deal struck by Gov. Brian Sandoval and members of both parties in the Legislature. In exchange for a number of reforms, Sandoval has agreed to extend some expiring taxes to add funding to the budget.

Successful passage of the reforms is key to getting enough Republicans to vote for the compromise.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, said AB401 is not real reform.

“It does absolutely nothing,” he said Wednesday following announcement of the budget deal.

The bill is cited by Sandoval as a piece of the reform and budget deal.

The committee did not take immediate action on the bill.

Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said the concerns expressed by Madole can be raised if the bill is passed by the Assembly and sent to the Senate for further hearings. As written, however, Goicoechea said he would have to oppose the bill.

Audio clips:

John Madole of the Associated General Contractors says the bill does not make any real reforms:

060311Madole1 :22 it any further.”

Madole says the bill would actually make it tougher to implement reforms:

060311Madole2 :17 problem in 2011.”

Madole says the proposed reforms don’t come close to the changes that are needed:

060311Madole3 :16 everybody feel good?”

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith asks if the proposed reforms are better than no changes at all:

060311Smith :18 issue versus nothing?”

Assemblyman John Oceguera says the bill makes substantive reforms in three areas:

060311Oceguera :22 we worked on.”

 

 

Budget Deal Announced Today Includes Extension Of Taxes, Major Reforms

By Sean Whaley | 5:03 pm June 1st, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval and legislative leaders from both parties announced a budget agreement today that will see tax extensions and restorations of funding to public and higher education in exchange for significant policy reforms in education and collective bargaining.

The agreement came on the 115th day of the session, and virtually guarantees that lawmakers will adjourn the 2011 session by Monday as the constitution requires.

“Nevadans deserve leadership, stability and consensus, and I believe this budget and reform package provide all three,” Sandoval said at a press briefing attended by numerous lawmakers, lobbyists and other interested parties.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, called the agreement fiscally responsible and a true compromise that “protects the most essential funding for our schools, our community colleges and universities, and services for our most vulnerable.”

Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, head of the Assembly GOP caucus, said the deal is the best that could be achieved among the two houses and parties.

“None of us got everything we wanted,” he said. “But the bottom line is we hung together.”

Faced with a recent Nevada Supreme Court decision that threw his budget into turmoil, Sandoval reluctantly agreed to extend higher business taxes on the state’s largest employers for two more years to bring in nearly $300 million. The budget deal also includes a reduction in tax exemptions for the mining industry that will bring in another $24 million to the state general fund.

In all, the two-year state budget that begins July 1 totals $6.24 billion. This does not include another $265 million in other revenue that will go directly to the state’s public schools system bringing total spending to about $6.5 billion.

Sandoval decided to agree to extend sun-setting taxes because of the court ruling issued last week over the decision by the Legislature in 2010 to sweep a$62 million local government water fund. The court said it was impermissible. While opinions on the effect of the ruling differed, ultimately $481 million in anticipated revenue was eliminated from Sandoval’s proposed budget. The ruling forced lawmakers and Sandoval into intense budget negotiations.

Until Sandoval opted to relent on the tax issue, Republicans had held firm with him opposing new revenues to increase funding to public education, higher education and health and human services programs.

In exchange for extending the sun-setting taxes, Sandoval and Republican lawmakers won a number of reforms, including the elimination of teacher tenure and ending the seniority system used in the public schools for layoffs.

“These reforms do not hurt good teachers,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “If you are a good teacher, you have a job.”

The reforms also include the complete elimination of the modified business tax for 70 percent of the state’s smallest employers. This group currently pays a 0.5 percent rate based on payroll.

Other reforms include the elimination of health care benefits upon retirement for new state hires. The state currently subsidizes health insurance for retirees. The change effective Jan. 1, 2012 will save an estimated $275 million over the next 30 years.

There are also reforms to the state’s collective bargaining law, including a provision allowing agreements to be reopened in cases of fiscal emergency and eliminating bargaining for supervisory public employees. There will also be a study on how to deal with the $10 billion unfunded liability of the Public Employees’ Retirement System.

The governor will also get to appoint the superintendent of public instruction.

One area that remains an issue is construction defect reform.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, said Assembly Bill 401, proposed by Oceguera, is not real reform. The construction industry is expected to oppose the measure, he said.

“It does absolutely nothing,” Hickey said.

Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said the budget bills implementing the spending plan should be introduced tomorrow. A final joint money committee hearing set for later today will put the few final minor finishing touches on the budget, she said.

But even with the increased funding, Leslie said the 2011-13 spending plan is not one she is proud of, or believes adequately funds important social and education programs.

“We’re eliminating programs like a senior outreach program,” she said. “We have the highest suicide rate for seniors in the country, and we eliminated the one outreach program for senior mental health that we have.”

It does eliminate the unacceptable securitization of the insurance premium tax proposed by Sandoval as a way to generate $190 million in additional funds for the budget, Leslie said. It also eliminates the use of the school bond reserve funds.

One bit of bad news for Nevada’s economic future was mentioned in passing in the budget compromise. Nevada’s forecast for revenue from unclaimed property was revised downward by nearly $34 million. The reason is the relocation of a division of Citibank now located in Southern Nevada.

The state’s unclaimed property fund has benefited from the Citibank presence because money belonging to the company’s customers from around the world ends up here when the owners cannot be identified. The company turned over $36 million in unclaimed property this year. With the relocation, this revenue will no longer flow to Nevada.

Reaction to the budget and reform deal varied.

Assemblyman Crescent Hardy, R-Mesquite, said: “I think neither one of us ended up real happy with the situation. I think we’re both pleased we have come to a consensus. They didn’t get their $1.2 billion tax package; we’re really happy about that.

“We had five reforms we wanted. We didn’t get all of them,” he said.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, said: “The Republican Assembly caucus had certain goals and priorities in mind and we stuck to them, but unfortunately through no fault of the governor he was handed a devastating blow by the Supreme Court’s ruling and he had to pick up the pieces.

“I had personally hoped for a little more depth in construction defect and collective bargaining reforms,” he said.

Nevada News Bureau Editor Elizabeth Crum contributed to this report

Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the budget deal is the result of leadership and consensus:

060111Sandoval :12 provide all three.”

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera says budget deal is bipartisan and fiscally responsible:

060111Oceguera1 :18 our most vulnerable.”

Oceguera says work is still needed on reforming the state’s revenue structure:

060111Oceguera2 :12 state forward, thank-you.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford says the reforms to teacher tenure won’t harm good teachers:

060111Horsford1 :13 a great job.”

Horsford says Nevada policy makers came together while facing the biggest fiscal challenge of any state:

060111Horsford2 :13 to the plate.”

Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea says not everyone got all they wanted in the deal:

060111Goicoechea :15 resolve this issue.”

Sen. Sheila Leslie says the budget is not one she is proud of because of the necessary cuts to important programs:

060111Leslie :12 that we have.”

Gov. Sandoval Taking Two Pronged Approach To Addressing Potential $656 Million Budget Shortfall

By Sean Whaley | 5:35 pm May 27th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The Sandoval administration is pursuing two paths in an effort to resolve a potentially massive budget shortfall, seeking clarification from the Nevada Supreme Court on the case that created the issue and working with lawmakers on potential additional revenues should they be necessary.

Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Gov. Brian Sandoval, briefed a number of interested parties on the developments since the state’s high court dropped the potential budget bombshell on the Legislature yesterday.

“The Supreme Court, in a rather dramatic decision, presented us with a math problem,” he said. “They didn’t present us with a crisis, and they didn’t present us with something insurmountable.”

In a decision rejecting the Legislature’s right to use $62 million from a Southern Nevada water fund to help balance the current budget, the court intimated that as much as $656 million proposed by Sandoval to be used in the upcoming budget could be legally unavailable.

Erquiaga said the first course of action was for Sandoval early this morning to ask Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to ask the court to clarify if its decision was narrowly focused on the $62 million clean water fund sweep, or if the decision should be interpreted more broadly to cover other proposed uses of local funds to help balance the governor’s proposed $6.1 billion spending plan.

“Again, did the court mean $62 million, or did the court mean to take the broadest interpretation possible, thus putting at risk an amount ten times that size, and really, forever changing the way we budget in the state of Nevada,” Erquiaga said.

“These revenue mechanisms have been used for anyone’s recent memory here,” he said. “All of the revenue mechanisms that the governor included in his budget except one have been used by prior legislatures. For the court to say you can’t use that kind of money anymore will forever change the way we budget.”

Erquiaga said that if the issue is only the $62 million water fund sweep, the Legislature can move forward with adopting Sandoval’s proposed two-year budget. Sandoval would like the court to act quickly on the clarification request so the Legislature can complete its work by June 6, the constitutionally mandated final day of the session, he said.

On the budgetary front, Sandoval has met with lawmakers from both parties and both houses to discuss the possible continuation of some of the tax increases set to sunset June 30 as a source of new revenue should it be needed to balance the budget, Erquiaga said.

About $679 million could be generated if the taxes were extended another two years. The taxes include a sales tax piece and a higher modified business tax for the state’s largest employers, but Sandoval will not support continuing all of the higher levies, he said.

So if $656 million is needed to balance the budget, Sandoval will look to other revenues, but not new taxes, Erquiaga said.

“If sunsets are called into play, you may be assured that the margin tax and the service tax are not,” he said.

These new taxes were proposed by legislative Democrats in recent weeks as a way to augment the budget.

As part of these tax discussions, Sandoval and Republican lawmakers are seeking a number of policy reforms as part of any such continuation, Erquiaga said.

Some of the reforms being discussed this session include changes to Nevada’s collective bargaining law, the elimination of teacher tenure, and others.

“It is critical to the governor that reforms be included in any final solution,” Erquiaga said.

He would not disclose the specifics of the reforms under discussion.

Charles Blumenthal, communications director for the Assembly Democratic Caucus, said legislative leadership is having productive discussions every day trying to work through the process and get a budget agreement.

Audio clips:

Sandoval Senior Adviser Dale Erquiaga says the Supreme Court presented the governor and Legislature a math problem, not a crisis:

052711Erquiaga4 :10 with something insurmountable.”

Erquiaga says Sandoval wants the court to clarify its intent:

052711Erquiaga1 :14 state of Nevada.”

Erquiaga says the revenue mechanisms used in Sandoval’s budget have been used before:

052711Erquiaga2 :16 way we budget.”

Erquiaga says policy reforms have to be part of any budget solution:

052711Erquiaga3 :05 any final solution.”

 

Assembly Panel Hears Bill Seeking Modest Reforms To Public Employee Retirement Plan

By Sean Whaley | 11:50 am April 13th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Legislature finally took up the issue of reforms to the state’s public employee retirement system today, but the proposed changes from Democratic Assembly Speaker John Oceguera are modest.

Oceguera spoke in support of Assembly Bill 405, which would eliminate call-back pay as a form of compensation used to compute retirement benefits for new government workers hired starting Jan. 1, 2012. Call-back pay is used when certain police officers or fire fighters are called back to work in an emergency.

It also proposes that the Legislature make no changes in benefits to the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) for 10 years unless necessary to maintain the financial integrity of the plan. After 10 years, the Legislature would not enact any benefit increases unless the system’s long-term unfunded liability was at least 85 percent funded.

The plan is currently 70.5 percent funded.

Oceguera said his changes would bring down the liabilities of the plan while increasing the predictability of the system, which covers virtually all state and local government employees in Nevada.

Oceguera said the Legislature made major changes to the PERS plan in 2009, and those changes need time to take effect. The 10-year moratorium on any changes would allow the system to assess how those reforms are affecting the long-term liability, which stood at $10 billion on June 30, 2010.

Local government and business representatives supported the proposed changes, while some public employee labor groups spoke in opposition. The panel did not take immediate action on the bill, which faces a Friday deadline for passage.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has advocated for a major change to the retirement system to begin work on reducing the unfunded liability of the plan, but he did not introduce a bill this session addressing the issue.

Heidi Gansert, chief of staff to Sandoval, said the administration would participate in a debate on reforms to the retirement plan as bills dealing with the system came up for hearing, but no one from the governor’s office testified on AB405.

Supporting the bill were Ted Olivas, representing the city of Las Vegas, and Tray Abney, with the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

Ron Cuzze, representing the Nevada State Law Enforcement Officers’ Association and the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, spoke in opposition to the measure, saying the proposed change to call-back pay is a “knee-jerk reaction” to a “group of individuals” in the public employee system that defrauded the taxpayers.

Cuzze was referring to allegations of sick leave abuse by some Clark County fire fighters.

Rusty McAllister, representing the Professional Fire Fighters of Nevada, said the proposed changes in the bill are modest, but that no reforms should be advanced without a discussion of Nevada’s revenue system.

The changes to PERS agreed to in 2009 were made in exchange for the temporary tax increase approved by lawmakers to help fund the current two-year budget, he said.

“We traded, if you will, permanent changes to the PERS and the collective bargaining system for temporary changes in the revenue structure in the state,” McAllister said. “And certainly, we would hope that if this is going to move forward, that this could again be part of a discussion, but part of a discussion as a permanent fix to the revenue stream and not just continuing to pile permanent fixes on the public employees while we have temporary fixes to our problems.”

Sandoval has repeatedly rejected any call for new taxes or fees to balance his $5.8 billion general fund budget.

Dana Bilyeu, executive officer for the retirement system, said her board has not yet taken a position on the bill. Staff will recommend a neutral position on the benefit change, and an endorsement of the legislative pledge for no benefit modifications for 10 years. The proposal mirrors the system board’s funding policy in effect now, she said.

Audio clips:

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera says major reforms to the public employee retirement system were approved in 2009:

041311Oceguera1 :11 is significant change.”

Ron Cuzze, representing Nevada law enforcement, says the change in call-back pay is a knee-jerk reaction:

041311Cuzze :25 doesn’t make sense.”

Rusty McAllister, representing Nevada fire fighters, says further PERS reforms should only be made in exchange for dealing with the state’s revenue problems:

041311McAllister :29 to our problems.”

 

Think Tank Analysis Says Collective Bargaining Law Needs Reforms To Improve Student Achievement

By Sean Whaley | 2:00 am March 23rd, 2011

CARSON CITY – The author of a new analysis of Nevada’s collective bargaining law says the complex rules have worked to the benefit of teachers’ unions rather than students, making reforms essential to improve the state’s public education system.

In the analysis of Nevada’s collective bargaining law for the Nevada Policy Research Institute released today, author Greg Moo says it is time to revise the rules so real progress can be made on student achievement.

Titled “NRS288 – A Law Against Student Learning,” the analysis says the state statute that requires school districts to bargain with unions over a multitude of issues works against efforts to replace bad teachers.

“Why is it so hard to remove a teacher who’s not teaching and replace that teacher with one who is?” Moo asks in the executive summary of his analysis. “In Nevada, it’s because Chapter 288 of the Nevada Revised Statutes compels school districts to negotiate long, difficult and costly step-by-step procedures that district administrators must follow to terminate a teacher.

“Moreover, NRS 288 requires that school districts must collectively bargain with teacher unions on a whole shopping list of ‘subjects’ – making contract agreements between school districts and teacher unions into cumbersome obstacles to any school district effort to improve students,” he says.

Lynn Warne, president of the Nevada State Education Association, disagrees with the notion that collective bargaining laws negatively affect student achievement. Eight of the10 states that won federal grants to improve student performance in round two of the Race To The Top competition are collective bargaining states, she said.

States with high student achievement rates as demonstrated by graduation rates and  National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores are strong union states with collective bargaining laws, Warne said.

“Collective bargaining does not stand as an impediment to innovation, to reform or student achievement,” she said.

In his analysis, Moo also points to the salary schedules used to provide pay raises to teachers – schedules that rely on years of service and increased educational attainment rather than performance in the classroom – as a problem area created by collective bargaining.

Eliminating teacher tenure and binding arbitration, where teachers and school district officials submit their differences to a panel of attorneys for a final decision on a contract dispute, would help Nevada move forward on student achievement, he said. The binding arbitration process has a history of favoring labor unions, Moo said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed some reforms to Nevada’s public education system in the 2011 legislative session, including eliminating teacher tenure. He has not proposed changes to the collective bargaining law himself, but has said he would welcome such a discussion in the Legislature.

Sandoval is also seeking a constitutional amendment to allow for a voucher program so parents could use tax dollars to send their children to private schools, including religious schools. But any such change is several years in the making.

Sandoval also wants a pay for performance plan for teachers, and has proposed ending pay increases to teachers who attain master’s degrees, as part of his budget.

Teachers have said Sandoval’s performance pay effort is inadequate at $20 million statewide.

As the NPRI study notes, a few bills have been introduced in the Legislature to make reforms to the collective bargaining process, although there has been no call yet for an outright repeal of the law as happened recently in Wisconsin.

Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, has introduced Senate Bill 162, which would revise the mandatory topics of collective bargaining for public employees. Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, has introduced Senate Bill 342, which calls for changes concerning collective bargaining between governments and public employees. The city of Reno is also seeking changes to the law in Senate Bill 78.

Moo’s analysis looks at collective bargaining only as it relates to public education.

The state’s school superintendents, facing the potential of reduced funding for teacher salaries in Sandoval’s budget, have also asked lawmakers for the ability to open up collective bargaining laws so such cuts can be implemented if they become reality.

Assembly Democrats have proposed some reforms of their own, including pay for performance for teachers. Democrats have also proposed a change to the probationary status of teachers in Assembly Bill 225. It would place post-probationary teachers back on probationary status if they receive negative evaluations two years in a row.

Warne said the NSEA is supportive of many reforms under discussion this session, including making pay for performance an element of compensation for teachers. The association also supports extending the teacher probationary period to three years and expediting the process to remove bad teachers, she said.

“Getting rid of a bad teacher, and getting rid of a bad teacher faster, we’re on board with that,” Warne said. “We’ve always said we don’t protect bad teachers, we protect the process.”

It remains to be seen which, if any reforms to collective bargaining or teacher performance, win approval in the 2011 legislative session.

Moo, who has a doctorate in educational policy and management from the University of Oregon, concludes: “It’s time for the makers of the rules to change the rules – so the game can be played as much to the benefit of student learners as to the benefit of teacher unions. As Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the beleaguered public schools of the District of Columbia, put it, the problem isn’t students, ‘It’s the adults.’ ”

Audio clips:

Greg Moo, author of critique of Nevada’s collective bargaining law for teachers, says teacher tenure is a stumbling block to student achievement:

032311Moo1 :18 is really bizarre.”

Moo says the collectively bargained salary schedule for teachers rewards longevity over performance:

032311Moo2 :24 to do that.”

Teachers’ Union President Lynn Warne says states with high student achievement are collective bargaining states:

032311Warne1 :22 or NAEP scores.”

Warne says collective bargaining is not an impediment to student achievement or educational innovation:

032311Warne2 :06 or student achievement.”

Warne says the NSEA supports reforms, including improving the process to remove bad teachers:

032311Warne3 :10 protect the process.”

 

Public Pension Reform Will Be Issue in 2011 Legislative Session

By Sean Whaley | 3:11 pm November 12th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Newly named state Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness is adding his name to the list of Nevada policy makers who believe the state retirement system needs major change to head off a growing unfunded liability.

McGinness, R-Fallon, said he agrees with GOP Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval that the retirement plan now covering 103,000 active public employees across the state needs to switch to a “defined contribution” plan for future hires.

McGinness said the switch would at least keep the long-term unfunded liability of the retirement system from growing larger.

“I pretty much agree with that idea,” he said. “Otherwise we will continue to build on the problem we have now.”

McGinness said his views are his own. The possibility of reforms to the Public Employees Retirement System in the upcoming legislative session have not yet been discussed by the Republican Senate Caucus as a whole, he said.

State Sen.-elect Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said the unfunded liability is clearly an issue that needs to be discussed in the upcoming session, but that it is more of a long-term policy question than one requiring immediate action.

There is no suggestion that the retirement plan be changed for people already in the system, she said.

“We’re not going to take away benefits that have been promised to people,” Leslie said. ‘It’s more of a conversation we need to have as we hire new employees, whenever that’s going to happen. It is a topic that needs to be considered for the long-term fiscal stability of the state.”

Senate Democrats have not yet discussed the issue as a caucus either, she said.

At a meeting of the PERS board on Wednesday, it was announced that the system’s long-term unfunded liability hit $10 billion as of June 30, 2010, up from $9.1 billion as of June 30, 2009. The plan was 70.5 percent fully funded on June 30, 2010, down from 72.5 percent in the previous year. At its high point in 2000 the plan was 85 percent funded.

The PERS board recommended increases in the contribution rates paid by public employers and their employees to maintain adequate funding for the retirement system

While there is interest in considering a major change to PERS, no bill drafts calling for reforms have yet been requested by lawmakers.

The PERS board did authorize an analysis of what a conversion to a defined contribution would mean in terms of cost and required regulatory changes because of the interest in the issue. The report is expected to be discussed by the board next month.

There are court rulings saying that public employees already in the retirement plan have a legal right to the benefit that cannot be taken away, so any changes would have to be applied to future employees.

Some changes were made to the retirement system by the 2009 Legislature, including raising the retirement age to 62 from 60 for an employee with 10 years of service. An employee can still retire at any age with 30 years of service.

It is expected to be a topic of discussion, however, given Sandoval’s views on the need for more fundamental change. The existing “defined benefit” retirement plan provides a guaranteed pension to a retiree based on salary and years of service. A defined contribution plan would provide no such guarantee, and would not create an unfunded long-term liability.

Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce President Matt Crosson said in an interview in August that the organization wants retirement system reforms to be part of a package of changes to be considered by the 2011 Legislature. He did not specify what changes are needed to the retirement system.

“We have to take advantage of the crisis that we are in right now to set the state on the right course into the future,” Crosson said. “And in part that requires reform.”

The SAGE Commission, a panel created by outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons to look for efficiencies in state government, also recommended changes to the retirement system but did not advocate a change to a defined contribution plan.

Recommendations from the Spending and Government Efficiency panel include setting a minimum retirement age of 60 before benefits can be paid out. Other recommendations include calculating the retirement benefit over five years of pay, not the current three highest pay years, and imposing a moratorium on any benefit enhancements until the plan is fully funded.

State Lawmaker To File Campaign Report Before Early Voting, Challenges Other Candidates To Do The Same

By Sean Whaley | 3:40 pm September 28th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada state Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, said today he will voluntarily file his campaign contribution and expense report before early voting begins to give the public adequate time to review the information.

Goedhart, who is running for re-election, said he is joining with Secretary of State Ross Miller in filing his report well ahead of the deadline now in state law.

Miller announced earlier this month he would voluntarily file early and electronically in support of legislation he will seek next session to improve public access to the information contained in the reports. Miller said he will also file a report four days before the general election detailing any contributions received by his campaign in excess of $1,000 after the initial report filing.

Campaign reports from candidates are not due now until Oct. 26, 10 days after early voting begins and only a few days before the Nov. 2 general election.

“There are legitimate concerns surrounding the disclosure of the identities of donors to political campaigns, especially when incumbent legislators are in a position to threaten, either subtly or overtly, retaliation against citizens who contribute to an opposing candidate,” Goedhart said.

“However, if the law requires disclosure, then such disclosure should be done in a timely fashion that provides voters the information they need to make an informed decision at the ballot box before they vote,” he said. “If we’re going to have early voting, then we need to have early disclosure.”

In addition to filing his report before early voting begins Oct. 16, Goedhart said he will also report contributions of $100 or more on his campaign website within 48 hours of receipt through election day.

He challenged other candidates to file early as well.

“We’re never going to get government to be fiscally responsible if we are not transparent and accountable,” Goedhart said.

Audio clips:

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart says he will report his contributions ahead of early voting and update the information through election day:

092810Goedhart1 :17 $100 or more.”

Goedhart says transparency will lead to fiscal responsibility:

092810Goedhart2 :05 transparent and accountable.”

Goedhart says reporting law must reflect popularity of early voting:

092810Goedhart3 :12 reality of voting.”