Nevada should make permanent cuts to the benefits it pays most employees, according to an advisory board that was appointed by the state’s conservative governor to review the government’s operations.
Gov. Jim Gibbons, a Republican, created the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission, or SAGE, with an executive order in May, charging it with providing recommendations for streamlining operations, improving customer service and maximizing the use of taxpayer dollars.
The commission delivered its second set of recommendations Tuesday, focusing on employee benefits.
“No one that testified on these issues before the commission was able to offer a convincing reason why, save for our police, firefighters, and university faculty, that state employees should have better and more expensive benefits than their private-sector brethren,” SAGE chairman Bruce James said in a news release. “For the most part, this involves reducing benefits for new hires, existing employees, and retired employees.”
The commission is slated to make new recommendations every 90 days through June 2010.
Tuesday’s recommendations include reducing health care subsidies to current state employees, reducing retirement benefits for employees hired after July 1, eliminating health care subsidies for those who retire after July 1, and eliminating all health care subsides for retirees who are Medicare eligible.
“With Nevada’s economy in such distress, the SAGE Commission report is extremely valuable,” Gibbons said in a news release.
Nevada is in the midst of a major budget crunch, but Gibbons political capital has been reduced since he was elected in 2006, most notably when the Democratic party, which already controlled the Assembly, gained control of the Senate in this year’s election.