Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Open letter to state legislators concerning PEBP budget

Dear Assembly members and Senators,

I'm writing you on behalf of the Nevada Faculty Alliance at UNLV, where I teach in the History Department, to emphasize how important the budget for the Public Employees Benefits Program is to the faculty and staff of our state's System of Higher Education.

While a great deal of the press's attention has been on the NSHE budget, many at UNLV have been as concerned with the very significant burden that the Governor's budget would place on UNLV faculty and staff by imposing drastic increases in out of pocket costs (an estimated $2000 to $3000 per year) and severe cuts in coverage -- and faculty and our administration remain very concerned with the irreparable damage that could be done to our competitiveness in the national and international academic job market if the most egregious proposals in the Governor's budget are passed.

I urge you to consider the following points as you prepare the PEBP budget for 2009-2011

1. Last fall, the PEBP Board, at the direction of the governor, proposed to cut benefits and to raise rates, to achieve over $50 million in savings, largely by nearly tripling the deductible. Also, the Board recommended changing the eligibility for subsidies to start after 15 years of service. These changes, while onerous, were met with reluctant acceptance out of recognition by UNLV faculty that in difficult times, we must all sacrifice.

2. However, the Governor's Executive Budget submitted in January reduced the PEBP budget by another $90 million, based on the dubious recommendations of the SAGE Commission. These draconian proposals include a very dramatic increase in monthly premiums to active workers, on top of the increased deductibles, which would result in an estimated out of pocket increase of at least $2000 annually for individual workers and $3000 for families for active workers. And it proposed to eliminate most or all state support for health coverage of retired state workers.

3. We are urging the legislature not to accept SAGE and the Governor's enhanced cuts and to restore the $90 million to the PEBP budget. Otherwise, the Legislature will be agreeing to the draconian changes that the governor has recommended, including implementing some extremely problematic proposals that would compromise the state's competitiveness, hurt our ability to attract new faculty, and make it difficult for us to retain current faculty until retirement.

The $50 plus million already taken from the program is a very serious hit on employees and retirees. We sincerely hope that the Legislature does not plan to implement the other plan changes and benefit cuts recommended by the SAGE Commission and the governor.

4. Additional information, including my and other faculty members' testimony to the joint hearing of the General Government subcommittees, is available on

In closing, I'd like to draw your attention to the calculations of my colleague, UNLV economist and Faculty Senate chair Nasser Danishvary, whose academic research into the economic value of health insurance benefits for workers, finds that workers comparing employers will seek higher salary from an employer which offers an inferior health plan; based on his national research, he estimates that it would cost the state approx $1600 per worker per year to remain as competitive with the higher premiums and reduced coverage that would result from the Governor's budget.

I'm happy to provide, at your request, additional documentation concerning any of these items.

On behalf of the NFA and all Higher Ed faculty, I am grateful for your careful attention to this very important issue.


Gregory S. Brown
Associate Professor of History, UNLV
Interim President, UNLV-NFA
NFA Political Action Committee co-chair

No comments:

Post a Comment