Friday, January 30, 2009

NFA statement on Executive budget proposed cuts to PEBP

In addition to the much-discussed proposal to cut 52% from UNLV and 6% from faculty salaries, the Governor's Executive Budget also includes the virtual destruction of the state health plan for state employees, with hundreds of millions of dollars proposed to be taken this biennium and in future years from what is only an average health plan compared to other states. This is yet another key aspect of a plan that balances the budget on the backs of state employees and retirees as well as higher education. Apparently the plan is to tax students and their families with huge increases to fund higher education, and tax state employees and retirees to fix the rest of the shortfall. That plan is unfair and short-sighted, and must be rejected.

The Governor relies heavily on the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce's study of public employee benefits, which has been shown to be badly flawed. It shows local government employees are relatively well paid with good benefits, but then the Chamber chooses to attack the state employee benefit package, although state employees are only 25% of the public employees in Nevada, and they are less well paid on the average. Those who did the Chamber study know that the health plan for state employees is only about average when compared to other states, and is much less generous than that of NV local governments. So, why this concerted attack?

The Governor’s budget proposes the virtual destruction of the health plan for state employees, with hundreds of millions taken from a relatively average health plan to balance the budget on the backs of state employees and retirees. That is the third leg of the plan to balance budget using tuition increases and salary cuts to state employees and teachers.

Legislators must pay as close attention the Governor’s proposals on health benefits for state employees as to the issues of salary cuts and higher education cuts. All carry potentially calamitous, and expensive, long-term consequences for the state.

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