Nevada Legislature: Panel recommends elimination of state worker longevity pay

A Nevada legislative subcommittee Saturday recommended elimination of longevity pay for veteran state workers to save $6.8 million during the biennium.

Longevity payments, which range form $150 a year for workers with eight years service to $2,350 for those at 30 or more years, have been suspended for more than a half dozen years. The governor’s proposed budget permanently eliminates them.

There were several members on the panel who opposed the plan including Assemblywomen Maggie Carlton, a Democrat, and Robin Titus, a Republican.

Both said the longevity payments are important to veteran workers and help retain those employees in state service.

“I’ve heard time and time again from folks who’ve been getting it,” said Titus. “We continue to train them but as soon as they find a job with better pay and benefits, they move on.”

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said he supports the move “as a piece of the puzzle,” that includes elimination of furloughs, restoration of merit and step increases.

“As we try closing down the budget, I certainly want to look at the feasibility of including some sort of COLA (cost of living adjustment) in the budget for state employees,” Kieckhefer said.

“I for one am not going home unless we can reward our infrastructure which is our state employees,” said Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick.

Mike Willden, chief of staff to the governor, said according to a survey of more than 9,800 state workers, longevity pay ranks about seventh out of 10 priorities.

He said universally, across the board, a raise in base pay was the top priority followed by health care then merit pay or added step increases, then retirement benefits.

He said longevity ranked higher in one group — those workers with more than 20 years service who put it at fourth out of 10 on their priority list.

“I’m hearing that COLAs and benefits across the board are much more important to them,” said Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez Thompson.

Carlton told the panel she can’t support this at this point until she sees what else the state can do for its workers this budget cycle.

Chairman Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas, pointed out the decision simply pushes the decision off depending on what happens with AB436, the bill that would actually eliminate longevity pay.

Willden said the governor believes elimination of furloughs and restoration of merit and step pay increases is more important to workers. Both of those changes are in the proposed budget.

The full committee vote on the issue is scheduled for Friday.


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