Las Vegas Sun

October 26, 2014

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Study to examine Nevada’s pension system

A national firm is being hired to compare the state's Public Employees' Retirement System with the other 126 government pension plans in the nation.

The system's Board of Directors on Wednesday approved a $50,000 contract with Aon Hewett to see how Nevada's $29.6 billion system measures up.

Nevada's plan, with 98,000 active members and 45,000 retired workers, was drawing a 15 percent rate of return as of Tuesday, said Dana Bilyeu, executive director of the system. "But we're not quite at the end of the fiscal year yet."

There were six bidders for the contract; Aon Hewett is to present its findings in September.

Bilyeu said these government systems are different but this study will "measure apples to apples" on such things as assets, liabilities, policies, contribution and pensions.

She said the study was prompted by Gov. Brian Sandoval who wanted a look at the Nevada system. "We worked with the governor's office to design the scope of the study."

This study is different than the bill introduced by Assemblyman Randall Kirner, R-Reno, who wanted a study on overhauling the system for future employees of the state and some local governments.

His bill called for a hybrid retirement program for employees hired after July 1, 2014. AB342, which died in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, would cap annual benefits, prohibit active employees from buying additional years to enhance their pension and the government contribution to the planned would be limited to 6 percent per employee.

Kirner complained there was a long-term $11.2 billion unfunded liability facing the current Nevada plan. Bilyeu said the present system's amortization period for the unfunded liability is 20 years.

Bilyeu said Kirner's bill called for a "really big change but we never got to examine it in detail."

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