Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2014

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Lawmakers reach agreement on employee benefits

Legislative leaders appeared to reach a tentative agreement on reforms for public employees benefits Thursday evening, clearing the way for the passage of spending and tax bills.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said "it sounds like everything is coming together." State Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, said there are two smaller issues to be resolved during the drafting of bills to reform public employee retiree health benefits, pensions and collective bargaining.

When Townsend was asked if he would support a tax package, he said, "if we resolve these two issues to Republicans' satisfaction, yes."

Legislators had been working to get tax and spending plans in Gov. Jim Gibbons' hands by 5 p.m. Friday. Legislators expect Gibbons to wait the maximum five days allowed before vetoing it. Legislators would then have to override the veto before the legislative session ends June 1.

Townsend said that under the agreement, new hires would get full pension benefits after 30 years of work. Also, Democrats agreed to save money to the system by adjusting cost of living allowances.

Only new employees would be affected by reforms to the pension system and public employee retiree health benefit subsidy, he said. Legislators have agreed to a $780 million tax increase over the next two years.

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