Nevada Legislature: State worker pay will actually increase this biennium |

Nevada Legislature: State worker pay will actually increase this biennium

For the first time in a decade, the majority of state workers will see an increase in their pay in the coming two years.

Calculating how much, however, is complicated because there are several moving parts in the actions approved by the 2015 Legislature.

The final piece of the puzzle was the cost of living raises announced in the final week of session. All state workers including university employees and state administrators will get a 1 percent raise effective July 1 and 2 percent more effective in July 2017.

In addition, all will get a bump up of about 2.3 percent from the elimination of the six furlough days a year.

Kevin Ranft of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said the increase may be small but, “it’s going to make a drastic difference for state employees.”

But all state workers will, at the same time, see a 1.125 percent reduction in take home pay because the Public Employee Retirement System raised its premium costs 2.25 percent for the coming biennium. That premium is split 50-50 between the state and the employee.

So, at that point, the net increase for all workers is 2.275 percent effective in July plus another 2 percent cost of living increase beginning July 1, 2017.

But that’s not all.

All those workers who are not at top scale in whatever job they hold will see a step increase recognizing another year of service to the state. Each annual step is worth between 4.5 and 5 percent so, in year two of the coming budget, they would be looking at an overall increase compared with current pay of nearly 10 percent.

Altogether, workers who qualify for both steps will be looking at an overall increase in pay of almost 7 percent effective in July and, compared to today, a total increase of nearly 14 percent by fiscal 2017.

Veteran state employees — those already at top scale in their job classification — won’t get the step increase. But they will see the COLAs and the increase from the end of the furloughs.

In addition, they won’t get their longevity pay back because, as recommended in the governor’s budget, lawmakers eliminated that permanently.

Longevity pay was awarded in an annual check to veteran workers ranging from $150 for those with eight years service to $2,350 for those at 30 or more years with the state. Those workers haven’t received that money for nearly a decade since the payments were suspended as part of the recession cuts.

Finally, there are a few more costs in the mix that will reduce everyone’s take home pay a bit.

For nearly 10,000 state workers covered by the Public Employee Benefits Program, elimination of the wellness program premium benefit will cost them up to $50 a month.

In addition to that, the PEBP premium rates for employees are going up this coming budget cycle, albeit not by a huge amount.

The employee only rate will rise from $39.26 to $42 a month and the employee with children rate from $86 to $93. The employee with spouse rate will increase $15 a month to $171 and the full family rate $19 to $222.

Finance Director Jim Wells said how the legislative actions impact each worker will depend on their specific situation. But he said that, overall, state employees have done well under the 2016-2017 budget.