Assembly Republicans Outline Spending Reforms - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Assembly Republicans Outline Spending Reforms

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Republicans and Democrats agree that jobs and education are both top priorities.

But the methods behind them are a little more tricky.

The usual argument is whether to raise revenue to fund education and other programs or to cut spending in some areas that could be used elsewhere.

At a press conference Thursday morning, Assembly Republicans laid out a plan they say could help use taxpayer money in a more efficient way.

Among them are changes to prevailing wages and the Public Employees' Retirement System, known as PERS, which Republicans say is going broke.

"Responsible reforms on those programs would save the state millions of dollars that could be used towards education today, not next year or the year after that," says Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury, R-District 23.

Assemblyman Randy Kirner says his reform plan for PERS could save the state $30 million after the first year.

He calls it a hybrid plan, comparing it to a combination of social security and a public 401k program.

The state would contribute 18% and the employee would put in 6%.

He says both would be paying less than they do now.

"Those benefit plans and those design plans are 40 or 50 years old," Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Minority Policy Coordinator, said. "The world has changed and we need to change with it."

But Democrats say PERS is something that needs to be studied closely before any changes are made.

"There's the fiscal side of it and there's the human side of it," says Senator Debbie Smith, D-Assistant Majority Leader. "These are our state employees who we value and who only have this as their source of retirement. They do not have Social Security."

Prevailing wages were also a topic of discussion.

Those are regulations meant to level the playing field for contractors.

But some Republicans say it prevents competition and artificially inflates the costs of public projects.

"Nevada cannot afford to use precious taxpayers' money to line the pockets of unions," says Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, R-Assistant Minority Leader.

Hardy says his plan could save 10% on construction costs.

It would exempt K-12 and higher education for projects like new schools or repairs.

But Democrats say you can't save money that isn't there.

"We're not building any schools right now," Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-Speaker, said. "There's no money. We haven't been building any schools. Do we want to educate our kids? Absolutely. We need to work on real solutions for today."

Republicans say they can also save time and money by replacing high school proficiency tests with comprehensive assessment earlier in high school.

As we've reported before, Democrats say they would like to add $300 million to education spending, which is more than double the Governor's proposal.

Written by Paul Nelson

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