Writing this a day after the marathon Senate Government Affairs hearing on public employee salaries and benefits.
A packed hearing room heard testimony from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the numbers gurus that were hired to study various state budget issues. You can find those studies HERE.
After that, the hearing went downhill fast. Union reps from the AFL-CIO, Metro police, firefighters, and teachers each came forward to present their case.
Choosing to bite the hand that feeds them, most of the speakers proceeded to bash the chambers of commerce and our members. We learned that the private sector is responsible for all of the world’s problems and we really have no right to even propose a reform agenda. (What right do we have to actually walk inside these hallowed halls and voice concern about where our tax dollars go?)
Chamber members also, apparently, do not pay enough in taxes.
When asked by Senator Raggio if the public employee collective bargaining process should be more transparent to the public (i.e., the employer), the unions stated no. (Everything is just fine. Trust us).
After all of the emotional outbursts, I stepped forward with two Chamber members to try to bring the discussion back to the world that most of our members live in. One member described the millions of dollars that his business has lost over the last year. The 150 employees that have been laid off. The struggle to provide health benefits. Having to bid jobs below cost just to get work. The outrageous prevailing wage black hole where our tax dollars disappear.
How many private sector businesses still offer defined benefit plans? How many people in the private sector can retire at age 50 and receive 75% of their highest salary level for life? How many of those same retirees receive health care benefits from their previous employer?
Maybe those who have been employed by the auto manufacturers do.
Can the State of Nevada afford to operate like Detroit?
And I'm still waiting for my COLA...