By JENNIFER KNIGHT
As the 77th session of the Nevada Legislature nears its close, I invite my fellow Nevadans to learn about their state employees before the final votes are cast to determine the economic fate of state employees, their families, and their neighborhood businesses.
We, the employees of the State of Nevada, are neighbors and fellow citizens of the State of Nevada. We are the patrons at local Mom and Pop stores; we dine at family-owned restaurants. We are friends, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, fellow parishioners. We are employees of the State of Nevada; we are not the government.
We provide vital services to our state. We apply law to administer the proper payment and distribution of benefits. We protect our fellow Nevadans by providing a structured environment for inmates to learn proper conduct before being released back into society. We protect the elderly and provide rehabilitation services to the disabled.
When the economy bottomed out, we rose to Nevada's call. We spent less time with our families so that fellow Nevadans could clothe and feed their children and maintain their dignity and independence. We sacrificed so that Nevada may recover because we believe in her recovery, and she is recovering! The average weekly wage just hit a record high! It is now time for Nevada to make its state employees whole, for our sacrifices have become untenable.
We are the first-year corrections officers who are paid straight time to work on Christmas keeping Nevadans safe. After we face the shock of our take-home pay, we have to then choose between welfare or leaving state service for a public safety employer who pays a living wage. We are the unemployment call center workers who qualify for Medicaid because our own pay and healthcare are that poor.
We are the first-year welfare workers who qualify for food stamps if we are the sole support for a household of two. Not five, two. We are the single mothers of disabled children who work full-time to aid our fellow Nevadans through hard times only to receive take-home pay that forces us to choose which child can see the doctor, and still we must sleep in our car.
We are the people who stayed in our positions through these cuts because we love our state, we care about helping our neighbors and businesses, and we believe in Nevada's recovery.
My fellow Nevadans, the State of Nevada does not spoil its employees; the State of Nevada has thrown its employees into the safety net that we safeguard and administer. If this is appalling to you, then I invite you to support us. Support Nevada’s neighbors, Nevada’s families, and Nevada’s businesses. Let the legislature and the governor know that the State of Nevada must pay its employees a living wage. Make us whole so that we can once again say that we take care of those who take care of Nevada. You can find your representatives at http://www.leg.state.