So, this week is kind of surreal, with several conference committees meeting to hash out differences on some remaining policy bills. Usually, budget issues get shoved right up until the last day of session. Given the quirkiness of the calendar this year, there may be hope that we get out by this weekend!
It would seem to be in the Speaker and Majority Leader's best interest to adjourn a few days ahead of time, enabling them to argue that they saved tax dollars. (Apparently, it costs around $120,000 per day to run the Legislative Building).
The renewable energy bills are still being hashed out. While most folks would assume that the major policy differences occur between Democrats and Republicans, the Assembly and Senate Dems have different ways to look at things as well! Everyone, including the Governor, wants to be in front of the renewable energy issue, so everyone seems to have their own bill on the subject! It will all get worked out, and Nevada should be well-positioned to take advantage of our abundant natural resources and (for now) business-friendly climate.
The Governor has until midnight on Thursday night to veto the budget and tax bills, which leaves plenty of time for an override vote in both chambers.
Word has it that the "reform package," which the Senate Republicans demanded before signing off on the tax increases, was in drafting this morning. All of the reforms are supposed to be wrapped into SB 427, which began its short life last week in the Senate Finance Committee as a PERS reform bill.
The Las Vegas Chamber has been instrumental in the negotiations on this bill. Below, you will find the reforms that were agreed to. This language was sent out to the members of the Vegas Chamber:
Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS):
(Effective for employees hired after January 1, 2010)
-Increases the number of years of service required for firefighters and police to retire with full benefits from 25 years to 30 years
-Increases the retirement age required to retire without penalty
-Increases the early retirement penalty from 4 percent to 6 percent per year
-Reduces the benefit factor from 2.67 to 2.50, adding 2 years to the number of years required to fully vest
-Reduces the ability to take advantage of the system by controlling spikes in compensation for the 5 years before retirement by capping the annual increase in pay at 10 percent (excluding promotion and assignment related bumps)
-Lowers the cap on Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for post-retirement increases
Public Employees' Benefits Program (PEBP):
-Increases number of years required to begin vesting in program from 5 to 15 years of service for public employees hired after June 30, 2009
-Requires retirees to be continuously enrolled in PEBP immediately upon retirement to receive benefit, eliminating adverse selection issues
Collective Bargaining Reform:
-Brings fairness to collective bargaining process by changing law so fact-finder must consider state employee compensation, as well as local government ability to pay for life of contract
-Brings transparency to collective bargaining process by requiring a full fiscal hearing before elected officials vote on a contract