Officials with Nevada’s public pension system have long fought efforts to ensure transparency and accountability. On more than one occasion, the state Public Employee Retirement System has gone to court in an attempt to prevent the release of certain information regarding benefits.
A story out of New York City helps explain why.
The New York Post reported last week that an 86-year-old former sanitation worker in the Big Apple who retired in 2015 is currently pulling down an annual retirement check of $285,047 — more than twice what he actually earned on the job each year.
When asked about his generous taxpayer-funded pension, Eugene Egan of the Bronx “became defensive,” the Post reported, and called the matter “fake news.” If only.
Unfortunately, such obscene largess is common across the country and helps explain why many municipalities — and even states — teeter on the brink of insolvency. Government workers enjoy lifetime retirement payouts and benefits that those in the private sector can only dream about.
“This is sweet for the retirees,” said Maria Doulis, vice president of New York’s Citizens Budget Commission. “A little bitter for the taxpayers.”
The Post got its numbers from the Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscally conservative think tank similar to the Nevada Policy Research Institute here in Las Vegas. Revealingly, the newspaper noted that “the Empire Center had to fight for years in court to get unredacted records from the New York City Employees’ Retirement System.”
If that sounds familiar, it should. The NPRI has also been forced to litigate its requests to examine records and payouts made by Nevada PERS. The Nevada Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the matter early next month.
The push to keep all this hush-hush is a cynical ploy intended to mitigate taxpayer outrage. Those who pay the bills have an absolute right to know the details regarding government pension payments. And those riding this unsustainable gravy train are terrified of what will happen when the public learns that plenty of Eugene Egans are out there, milking the system for all it’s worth.