- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada Republicans are looking to significantly change how the state’s public employee benefits system operates.

The Assembly Committee on Government Affairs reviewed the first details of AB 190 on Tuesday to committee rooms in Las Vegas and Carson City packed with worried public employees.

Reno Republican Assemblyman Randy Kirner sponsored the bill, which would require newly hired public employees to switch to a defined contribution plan, which limits pension payouts based on how much money public employees contribute. The existing system guarantees pensioners a specific payout, regardless of how well public pension fund investments perform.

The bill also caps annual benefits and requires workers to continue working until they reach the full retirement age of 67 before collecting full benefits. Kirner said the bill was necessary to reduce future money the program owes to retirees, and predicted that future workers won’t stay with the state for long periods of time, in keeping with societal trends.

“I guarantee you that when the millennials come along, they are not looking to work for the state for 30 years,” he said during the hearing.

Currently, state employees are set to increase their benefit contributions this session to 14 percent of their total pay, with the state adding matching funds.

Democrats questioned Kirner over the necessity and financial details of the bill, saying they were concerned with policy language that could potentially drive public employees away.

“I can’t make a policy decision about moving these funds around without understanding the math,” said Democratic Assemblywoman Amber Joiner.

Another bill sponsored by Kirner, which would change the makeup of the retirement system’s executive board, met stiff opposition and was defeated in committee last week.

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