Attorney General: State boards can’t pay directors more than governor
January 2, 2019
The Nevada Attorney General's Office has issued an opinion saying unless specifically authorized by lawmakers, boards and commissions are prohibited from paying their directors and legal counsel more than 95 percent of what the governor makes.
The 10-page opinion by Deputy Attorney General Tiffany Breinig came after it was requested by Gov. Brian Sandoval after an executive branch audit showed a number of boards paying salaries significantly higher than the $141,867 salary received by the governor.
Auditors in June found the Pharmacy, Medical, Contractor's and Accountancy boards all paid their executive directors significantly more than the governor's salary. The pharmacy board director's salary was $181,677 a year, the top pay for any of the state's numerous boards and commissions.
The medical board's director made $161,491, the head of the contractors board $159,967 and the accountancy board director $152,770.
One person who worked as executive director for three different boards, auditors said made $193,753 and was on track to make $208,000 in this fiscal year.
In addition, several part-time boards paid well over the governor's hourly rate of $67.94.
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The argument made by some boards was the law applies to the "salary of a person employed by the state or any agency of the state," and that employees of fee-funded boards aren't state employees.
Sandoval asked for an opinion determining whether they are or aren't state employees.
The opinion issued in December states board and commission employees are state workers, "unless exempted by a separate provision of law governing the compensation of employment qualifications for a specific position, a fee-funded board or commission must comply with the salary limitation set forth in NRS 281.123."
Sandoval in 2010 issued a directive requiring board salaries to be "equivalent to similar positions within the state system," according to the audit. Some two thirds of the boards and commissions reported they didn't follow that directive.
According to the audit issued in June, that means those boards overpaid by an average between $28,000 and $59,000 compared to similar positions within the state system.
The opinion states the governor has both the responsibility and the authority to direct fee-funded boards and commissions to comply with the 95 percent rule.