PERS commentary too one-sided

To the editor:

With regard to the Dec. 15 commentary about the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System (“Nevada PERS report previews a slow-motion train wreck”), we appreciate that individuals may have differing perspectives regarding the retirement system. However, we feel the views expressed in the commentary present a one-sided perspective of the facts about the pension fund’s financing and the Aon Hewitt study requested by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

We believe any discussion of the report should mention its conclusions. Aon Hewitt found a number of conservative funding policies to be unique to Nevada PERS. These include PERS’ equal sharing of contributions between members and employers, its automatic reflection of actuarial gains and losses in contribution rates, and the PERS board’s recent decision to shorten liability amortization periods from 30 years to 20 years.

In addition, Aon Hewitt concluded that, “the actuarial funding policy, including its requirements regarding audits, benefit improvements, funding methodology and other details, represents a comprehensive, thoughtful and appropriate model that constitutes a best-in-class policy that many other systems do not have.”

One of the most attractive features of a responsibly funded pension plan is its ability to finance benefits over a member’s entire lifetime. This can cover over 50 years of both employment and retirement. As a result, a focus on investment returns over a short period of time, especially a period that included the worst bear market for risk assets in 80 years, provides an incomplete picture of potential performance.

When we review results over longer periods, PERS’ returns are in line with long-term objectives. For the period that ended Sept. 30, PERS’ 25-year return is 8.3 percent, and its since-inception return (about 29 years) is 9.5 percent. Results for these periods are competitive with other large institutional investors, ranking in the top 10 percent among all funds on a risk-adjusted return basis.



The writer is executive officer of the Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada.

UNLV stadium

To the editor:

In response to the UNLV stadium article Monday (“Stadium consultant emphasizes value of venue”), I was delighted to read that Mark Rosentraub, a former critic of large stadium projects, has switched teams — excuse the pun — and is such an enthusiastic supporter of the new stadium proposal for UNLV. Collecting a $300-per-hour consulting fee from taxpayers, er, UNLV, couldn’t possibly have influenced his opinion.

Most encouraging is Mr. Rosentraub’s projection of badly needed commercial and residential development in the area. With thousands of acres of vacant land surrounding UNLV, it would be nice if students could find an apartment or a place to grab a bite to eat somewhere nearby. Except for attending meetings, it is unlikely that any of the most enthusiastic supporters of this boondoggle have any personal skin in the game. If the stadium turns out to be a flop, becoming another millstone around taxpayers’ necks, supporters can simply walk away saying, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Why not require supporters to each deposit $100,000 of their own money into an escrow account. As soon as the stadium is generating a true profit, these funds can then be returned to them with interest.

If only we had facilities such as Cashman Field, Sam Boyd Stadium, the Thomas &Mack Center, and large arenas such as The Orleans, MGM Grand and South Point, we might not be in such desperate need of this new stadium.



Leading by example

To the editor:

In the past few weeks, there have been numerous articles and letters about Sen. Harry Reid exempting some of his staffers from the Affordable Care Act.

My parents taught me this principle: Just because it’s legal doesn’t necessarily make it the right choice. Later in life, I learned one of the foundations of good leadership and management is to lead by example.

If Obamacare is good for all our citizens, then everyone in Congress who voted for it should mandate their employees use it, too.

That is leadership by example.



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