March 26, 2019
26 Mar 2019

Political Update – March 26, 2019

 

CCSD using taxpayer resources to promote teachers union’s agenda 

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal

March 21, 2019

The Clark County School District has been using taxpayer resources to advance the political agenda of the teachers union.

The Clark County Education Association wants additional education funding. It has launched an online petition to pressure politicians in Carson City. That’s normal, even if there’s a decades-long record of more funding not increasing student achievement.

What shouldn’t be normal is the district promoting that effort. Yet, on at least two occasions, the district has done exactly that.

On Dec. 6, Kelly Carque, the assistant principal at Palo Verde High School, sent an email to every parent at the school. “If you would like to support efforts to provide additional funding to our schools, please visit the following website,” her email read. The website was CCEA’s petition for more funding.

Carque even attached CCEA’s talking points and demands. The district provided Carque’s email in response to a public records request.

Ironically, the district spent years in court arguing that the work emails of teachers weren’t public information. Yet, an assistant principal is able to spam the private emails of parents to push the district’s preferred political agenda.

This wasn’t a one-off event either. On Tuesday, Culley Elementary School had the union’s propaganda on its website. It linked to the union’s petition and told parents to RSVP for an upcoming union rally.

After I asked about it, the graphic promoting the union’s political advocacy disappeared.

“This content has been removed from the website,” Kirsten Searer, the district’s chief communications officer, emailed.

She refused to say how many district schools are using district resources to advertise for the union’s cause. She also declined to share whether the district plans to take any action to stop such behavior.

This is another instance in the district’s long pattern of leveraging its taxpayer resources to advocate for more funding.

In 2012, the school district wanted voters to approve a tax hike for school construction. Every School Board member had district employees send emails encouraging parents to support the measure. District lobbyist Joyce Haldeman authorized school district employees to pick up campaign literature. The toothless Nevada Commission on Ethics found they each committed violations, but the panel barely slapped their hands.

*NEW*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“Through ethical means or not, the school district usually has been successful in increasing funding. If only it was as successful in increasing student achievement.”

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal
March 21, 2019

Teachers union pushes dedicated funding source for salaries

April Corbin
Nevada Current

March 25, 2019

When Gov. Steve Sisolak promised educators a 3 percent raise during his state-of-the-state speech, some teachers couldn’t help but wonder: Would that money ever reach their paychecks? Or would the money be diverted elsewhere?

It’s happened before.

Teachers within Clark County School District are supposed to be able to look toward the salary schedule negotiated by their collective bargaining agent, Clark County Education Association. It lays out salary increases based off length of employment (“steps”) and levels of professional development (“columns”). Step increases equate to about a 2 percent raise. Column advancement results in larger raises but requires significantly more work, typically in the form of advanced degrees or professional development courses.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

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March 25, 2019
25 Mar 2019

Political Update – March 19, 2019

 

The prevailing wage is a rip off. Here are the numbers to prove it. 

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal

March 12, 2019

CARSON CITY — For decades, fiscal watchdogs have contended that prevailing wage mandates increase infrastructure costs. Now Nevada governments are saying the same thing.

When a private company embarks upon a major capital project, it solicits bids. Its goal is to find someone who will meet its construction standards at the best price. It doesn’t care if a company uses fewer higher paid workers or more lower paid workers. It’s just interested in the bottom line.

Not so in government. Nevada government requires that the workers on most government construction projects receive union-wage rates, called the prevailing wage. A Nevada Policy Research Institute study found that those wage rates are around 45 percent higher than market rates.

This doesn’t make economic sense for taxpayers, which is why Republicans passed a bill during the 2015 session that modified Nevada’s prevailing wage law. They raised the threshold at which prevailing wage requirements were triggered for public projects from $100,000 to $250,000. They also allowed school districts and colleges to pay 90 percent of the prevailing wage. It would have been preferable for Republicans to have eliminated the prevailing wage altogether, but, alas, former Gov. Brian Sandoval should have done a lot of things differently.

Now Democrats are seeking to overturn even those minor reforms. Every Assembly Democrat is co-sponsoring Assembly Bill 136. It would lower the prevailing wage threshold from $250,000 to $100,000 and require schools, colleges and charter schools to pay the full prevailing wage. The bill came out of committee on Monday.

Requiring higher wages for construction projects increases costs. That’s obvious to anyone not receiving union campaign contributions. It’s also the conclusion of numerous government agencies that looked at how this would affect their budgets. The Clark County School District projects the changes will cost it $7.5 million a year. The Nevada System of Higher Education estimates an extra $9 million a year in expenses.

That’s just the cost of raising the prevailing wage from 90 percent to 100 percent. The NPRI study found the market wage rate is 69 percent of the prevailing wage rate. If it had been legal for the school district to pay the market wage rate, it would have had an extra $15 million a year to spend on construction. Nevada’s higher education institutions would have had an extra $18 million a year. Both numbers are compared to paying 90 percent of the prevailing wage, not the 100 percent Democrats prefer.

*NEW*

Quote of
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To get a sense of just how inflated these [prevailing wage] mandated rates are, NPRI analyzed the 2017 prevailing wage rates for 14 job categories in Clark County, which accounted for more than half of all construction employment that year.

The prevailing wage ranged from 14 percent above the market wage for roofers, to a staggering 109 percent above the market wage for glaziers. On a weighted basis, the average Clark County prevailing wage was 56 percent greater than the market wage.

Robert Fellner
Nevada Policy Research Institute
March 11, 2019

Support for prevailing wage undermines Dem opposition to Opportunity Scholarships

Robert Fellner
Nevada Policy Research Institute

March 11, 2019

…Specifically, Assembly Democrats recently introduced AB 136, which schools estimate will cost them $25 million over the next biennium. If the fiscal note from NSHE is included, that amount rises to $43.5 million.

This added cost reflects AB 136’s increase in the so-called “prevailing wage” requirement, which mandates that union workers be paid significantly above-market rates when working on school construction projects.

To get a sense of just how inflated these mandated rates are, NPRI analyzed the 2017 prevailing wage rates for 14 job categories in Clark County, which accounted for more than half of all construction employment that year.

The prevailing wage ranged from 14 percent above the market wage for roofers, to a staggering 109 percent above the market wage for glaziers. On a weighted basis, the average Clark County prevailing wage was 56 percent greater than the market wage.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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March 12, 2019
12 Mar 2019

Political Update – March 12, 2019

 

Two of the senators pushing PERS secrecy bill receive six-figure public pensions 

Victor Joecks
Las Vegas Review-Journal

February 28, 2019

State Sens. David Parks and Joyce Woodhouse each receives a six-figure pension from the Public Employees’ Retirement System. Now, they’re co-sponsoring a bill to prevent you from finding out how much they and other retirees will collect going forward.

State law requires PERS to disclose retiree names, payouts and employment information such as years of service and last employer. You need these details to calculate the generosity of PERS payouts. This data is especially important because PERS says its unfunded liability is more than $13 billion. Using private-sector accounting, however, that number tops $40 billion. PERS is raising contribution rates this year to pay down that debt.

Sky-high payouts are a significant part of this problem. Rossi Ralenkotter, the disgraced former CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, retired last year. He’s now collecting a $284,000-a-year pension for life. Based on his salary history, it looks like he took a reduced pension to provide for a beneficiary in the case of his death.

Former Clark County School District superintendent Pat Skorkowsky retired last year with 30 years of service. His yearly pension is $238,000.

Former Assistant Sheriff Todd Fasulo earned $190,000 in base pay in 2017. His pension is worth $168,000 a year, which was more than 88 percent of his final year’s base pay. After “retiring” from government after just 27 years of service, he started working as vice president of security at Wynn Las Vegas.

David Noahr earned $157,000 in base pay working for the North Las Vegas police department in 2017. His yearly pension is now $177,000 a year, which is 113 percent of his last full year of base pay. Thomas Carroll retired as a chief deputy district attorney in 2018. His base pay was $161,000 in 2017. He now rakes in a yearly pension of $156,000, equivalent to 97 percent of his final salary.

Pension data comes from PERS via a public records request. PERS provided February 2019 payouts; yearly pensions are extrapolated from that. Salary data is from TransparentNevada.com.

This analysis reveals the generosity of PERS benefits, but it’s impossible to do without retiree names. Yet three state senators don’t want you to see this information.

*NEW*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“Taxpayers, including PERS members themselves, serve as the ultimate backstop to the retirement system. They are the ones required to pay when there’s a shortfall, as they have been repeatedly over the last decade.”

Richard Karpel,
Executive Director of the Nevada Press Association,
to the Nevada Senate Committee on Government Affairs

Lawmakers again hear divisive proposal to keep public pension recipients’ names private

James DeHaven
Reno Gazette Journal

March 1, 2019

It could soon get a lot harder to find out who is receiving a public pension in Nevada.

A deeply divisive bill heard at the Legislature on Friday would make the names of retirees enrolled in the state-run Public Employees’ Retirement System confidential and exempt from public records requests.

Current state law requires PERS to disclose the type and amount of pension paid to retirees, as well as their name, last employer, years of service and years of retirement.  

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

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March 6, 2019
06 Mar 2019

Political Update – March 5, 2019

 

Study: Nevada local government employees fare better than counterparts in 45 states 

Bethany Blankley
Watchdog.org

March 1, 2019

Local government workers in Nevada earn 46 percent more than their private sector counterparts, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the median earnings for local government workers in Nevada were higher than their government peers in 45 other states.

Statewide, government salaries and benefits cost taxpayers about $10 billion last year, the Nevada Public Policy Institute (NPRI) says – totaling 80 percent of all tax revenue collected by every state and local government agency in Nevada.

“If Nevada’s government pay gap continues its upward growth, the resulting tax hikes necessary to sustain such excess may become too great to bear,” Robert Fellner, director of Policy at NPRI, said.

There are different ways to interpret the data, Fellner explained, and not all comparisons are equivalent.

When considering education, experience and other factors, the salaries of local government employees and private sector employees are nearly equivalent, Fellner said. However, when considering total compensation, local government employees fare better than their private sector counterparts.

According to the Census Bureau’s 2017 earnings estimates for the median full-time, year-round worker, the disparity between government and private sector employees in Nevada is the largest in the U.S. By this measure it is nearly six times greater than the 8 percent median state differential nationwide.

The median earnings for local government workers in Nevada in 2017 were $58,644; the median for their private sector employee counterparts was $40,259.

Nevada state government employees’ median income of $51,948 was nearly 13 percent less than that of local government employees, Fellner points out.

“Study results have found that Nevada government workers [both local and state] can make as much as 57 percent more than a private-sector worker in the same jobs thanks to the massively richer health and retirement benefits government workers receive,” Fellner says.

*NEW*

Quote of
the week

 


Quote:

“If Nevada’s government pay gap continues its upward growth, the resulting tax hikes necessary to sustain such excess may become too great to bear.”

Robert Fellner,

NPRI Policy Director,
Watchdog.org
Mar 1, 2019

COMMENTARY: Collective bargaining for state government workers would bust the budget

Andrew G. Biggs
Special to the Review-Journal

March 2, 2019

In the coming days, the Legislature will consider whether to allow Nevada’s state government employees to collectively bargain. Right on time, the union-affiliated Economic Policy Institute has produced research purporting to show that Nevada state workers are underpaid. But that research is incorrect.

Nevada’s state government employees receive salaries slightly below private-sector levels, but benefits that are massively more generous. For most state employees, total compensation almost surely exceeds what they would receive in private-sector jobs.

Keystone’s Mission:

To recruit, support and advocate for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Keystone’s Mission:

• To focus on candidate support on state legislative races and the governor’s office.
• To oppose any form of corporate income taxes or other business taxes that discourage capital investment and therefore job creation.
• Support limiting Nevada state government spending to the rate of population growth.

P.O. Box 93596 | Las Vegas, NV 89193-3596

To ensure that you continue receiving email updates,

please add Info@KeystoneNevada.com to your address book or safe list.
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