Nevada Public Workers Among Highest Paid, Study Finds - 8 News NOW

Nevada Public Workers Among Highest Paid, Study Finds

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LAS VEGAS - Firefighters, water supply employees and court system workers in Nevada all make top dollar according to a state-to-state comparison of public employee salaries. State workers in Nevada are, on average, the 11th highest paid in the country. Local workers are the 9th highest paid.

While many private businesses slashed salaries or closed, state and local workers in Nevada saw a 2% increase in their salaries in 2009, according to the report. 

Read the Report

Hugh Anderson serves as the Government Affairs Committee Chairman for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, which commissioned the study. He says now is the time to reform collective bargaining. He urges lawmakers to take control of public salaries he says the state can't afford to pay. He claims the result might mean fewer cuts to vital programs and social services as Nevada lawmakers grapple with an estimated $2.5 billion budget deficit.

"Every time I hear that a social program for the less fortunate is being cut or our education system is being gutted, I have to consider it a bad thing… We are attacking the part of the budget that is ‘the easiest to reduce'," he said.

"During times of economic duress, contracts need to be able to be reopened and adjusted according to the circumstances we're dealing with. Right now, that luxury is not afforded to our political leadership."

The union that represents more than 18,000 state workers disagrees with the findings in the salary report. SEIU Local 1107 spokesman Nick DiArchangel says the report is flawed and doesn't consider the different cost of living in each state.

"When you look at our gas prices, according to AAA today, we're 8th as far as how much we're paying for gas in this country. We're 15th as far as what we're paying for car insurance in this country," he said.

DiArchangel also dismisses the Chamber's call for legislative action. He says in 2009, workers gave their fair share of concessions.

"We're doing more services, giving more services to the public with less people. I think it can be argued that it's a good value for the money," he said.

Teachers are the lowest paid local workers in Nevada, averaging just under $33,000 a year. Excluding teachers, the average state and local annual salary sits at about $56,000.

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