State panel suggests benefit cuts |

State panel suggests benefit cuts

Associated Press

A Nevada panel looking for ways to save money recommended Thursday that the state eliminate health-care subsidies for all employees who retire after July 1 and cut subsidies to existing retirees by 50 percent over the next two years.

The Spending and Government Efficiency, or SAGE, Commission also recommended that the state end subsidies for all retirees once they’re eligible for Medicare at age 65. State employees now are eligible for $396 to $696 per month in health-care subsidies. The average employee retires at age 60 and begins getting the subsidy.

The commission also said health-care benefits for state employees and their families should be cut so they mirror benefits that private-sector companies with more than 100 employees offer employees.

The typical state employee now pays between nothing and $28 a month for health- care coverage and $62 to $194 a month for dependent-care coverage for a family of four.

The proposals would save the state about $44 million a year if approved by the Legislature.

Jim Richardson, a lobbyist for the University Faculty Alliance, called the proposals “draconian” and said they would prevent universities from recruiting professors.

Richardson said he hoped that Gov. Jim Gibbons would not include the recommendations in his budget for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 fiscal years. Richardson also said he doubted the Legislature, now controlled by Democrats, ultimately would approve the changes in the health-care and retirement programs.

Bruce James, the SAGE Commission chairman, said the state “has to bring its payroll down” and the proposals were a way of doing that. The alternative to not approving such changes would be “people losing their jobs,” he added.