Benefit expansion

The board overseeing the state's Public Employee Benefits Program met last Thursday in Carson City and briefly addressed a proposal that would extend benefits to domestic partners, including gay couples.


But at no time during the discussion on the issue was there any talk of asking those who will benefit from the change to actually contribute to the cost.

Apparently, the taxpayers are simply there for the milking.

The plan was proposed by university system officials, who argue the reform will help recruiting. First, though, it must be approved by a panel of lawmakers that reviews state regulations.

But a second hurdle involves funding. Leslie Johnson, executive officer of the benefits program, said the expansion of benefits will not take place unless lawmakers and Gov. Gibbons agree next year to fund the $3 million annual cost.

In fact, though, the costs of the program could be covered by asking public employees to pay a slightly larger percentage of their own health care benefits. Or even asking those with domestic partners to pony up a little more.

A state worker living alone pays virtually nothing for his health care -- while a married worker pays about 16 percent of the cost, with the taxpayers pitching in the rest. It's a great deal.

Subsidies for public employee pensions and benefits are already through the roof. It's time to shift some of the burden off the taxpayers rather than treating them like a bottomless money pit.