Commentary: ‘Nevada must be made whole’

2013-05-16T02:00:00Z Commentary: ‘Nevada must be made whole’ Elko Daily Free Press
May 16, 2013 2:00 am

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.

nv.us/ and Governor Sandoval can be reached at http://gov.nv.gov.

Copyright 2015 Elko Daily Free Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(28) Comments

  1. jmtz
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    jmtz - May 27, 2013 3:20 pm
    I may be a little late on responding, but just read comments from may 21 paper. Just have to comment!!
    To JoMain: i completely agree that state workers have it tough. Where my complaint is, is your complaint against Newmont and Barrick! Can't hardly believe you'd complain about the 2 companies who basically feed Elko Co.! They have provided many jobs, helped with housing., and donated to charities and organizations. Our economy is healthy. Without them Elko would be hurting like everyone else.
  2. IamCorrect
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    IamCorrect - May 23, 2013 3:47 pm
    Dear Governor Sandoval,

    I hope you are hearing this message. State employees can stay quiet no more.
  3. IamCorrect
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    IamCorrect - May 23, 2013 3:47 pm
    Dear Governor Sandoval,

    I accept the reality that we need to balance the budget, but at this moment I no longer support the fact that you are balancing the budget on the backs of state employees and their families. Some programs, such as the ESL programs you proposed this year are nice, but they should NOT have come before the care of state employees.

    At this moment, I am angry at some of the choices you have made at the expense of me and the dwindling ranks of state employees.
  4. IamCorrect
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    IamCorrect - May 23, 2013 3:46 pm
    Dear Governor Sandoval,

    At this moment, I am having to choose between traveling to my ailing in-laws' to provide needed assistance and buying groceries for my family. Either one at this point would have to be put on a credit card.

    At this moment, I get the feeling that you do not have the best interests and well-being of state employees at heart.
  5. IamCorrect
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    IamCorrect - May 23, 2013 3:45 pm
    Dear Governor Sandoval,

    At this moment, my wife and I are experiencing financial difficulties caused largely by your recommendations to have the state's budget woes balanced on the backs of state employees.

    At this moment, you are losing employees.

    At this moment, perhaps you're hoping that seasoned employees like myself will leave the state so that you can hire a fresh crop of employees just out of college and at beginning wages.
  6. IamCorrect
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    IamCorrect - May 23, 2013 3:44 pm
    Dear Governor Sandoval,

    At this moment, I need to repair my sprinkler system and garage door, but I am unable to do so for the lack of available cash from my state job, in which I am topped out on the salary scale and for which I have received no COLA in many years.

    At this moment, I have to pay triple the water rates that I did last year due to the decisions of the PUC in Spring Creek, NV which PUC was appointed by you. And so I am having to choose to let my lawn die.
  7. IamCorrect
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    IamCorrect - May 23, 2013 3:43 pm
    Dear Governor Sandoval,

    At this moment, I am also having to decide between leaving the employ of the State of Nevada or moving to another state, which I do not want to do. For example, although Utah does not pay as well, their health benefits would benefit us enough to make the move a reasonable alternative.

    At this moment, I am having to pay upwards of $1000 for eye exams and glasses since the state's insurance no longer covers vision expenses, which money I do not have.
  8. IamCorrect
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    IamCorrect - May 23, 2013 3:41 pm
    Dear Governor Sandoval,

    At this moment I am an employee of the State of Nevada. I have been with the State since 2004. I am a single-income provider for a family of four.

    At this moment, I am having to consider leaving Elko and transferring my job to Las Vegas in hopes of finding a cheaper cost of living in order to make ends meet, but for which there is no guarantee.

    At this moment, I am also having to decide between leaving the employ of the State of Nevada or moving to another state.
  9. Fiona2012
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    Fiona2012 - May 21, 2013 4:31 pm
    DEBoyd, what do you know about being a State employee? Have you worked for the State? If so, when? Unless you have been a State employee, you have no right to make comments on OUR pay. I have been a State worker for almost 4 years and have seen my pay decrease every dang year. I have had to cut out necessities, yes NECESSITIES in order to pay other bills so I don't lose my home. You know not of which you speak, go away.
  10. Jenn
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    Jenn - May 21, 2013 7:04 am
    I am genuinely curious about the tables you're looking at. The tables I see at TN don't show who's full-time or part-time. Many "entry-level" jobs with the pay you mention require a degree and/or experience, also, and $10 per hour with 12.25% withheld is a far cry from a private sector $10 per hour with 6.2% withheld, or a county $10 per hour with 0% withheld.

    As for benefits, our benefits are so abysmal that employees WITH the state PPO qualify for Medicaid. Fact, not hyperbole.
  11. Jenn
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    Jenn - May 21, 2013 6:58 am
    I'm going to take having "schills" as a compliment because it's either that or have the strange feeling of trying to cry and laugh at the same time, which I've long since learned makes my head feel ready to implode.

    Yes, people jumped on the chance to comment when it was discovered that the article was printed in both papers because not everyone reads both papers. Not because they're schills, but because we're tired, we're hungry, and we've had enough.
  12. Jenn
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    Jenn - May 21, 2013 6:52 am
    I've actually looked at the data available through TN because I know that data is important for understanding. The problem is that the data on TN's site is from 2011, and halfway through that year was the 2011 session, when wages were cut even further and premium increases kept jumping. TN also doesn't point out that, while an hourly rate may look high, state employees on the Employee/Employer Pay plan pay 12.25% or 20.25% of their gross pay into PERS, a 25% jump from when I started.
  13. DEBoyd
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    DEBoyd - May 19, 2013 3:43 pm
    I sympathize. I lived in a rural County in Cal. making $779 a month. Two other guys and I organized our 15 man crew into an Association and gained collective bargaining status with the County. They were so appalled when we showed them the facts they gave us a 30% raise. That is one factor you have going against you. Those that deserve no raise must get one along with those who do. A public that might well grant raises to the very low paid won't agree to give the same percent to the over paid.
  14. DEBoyd
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    DEBoyd - May 19, 2013 3:27 pm
    As Stumpster rightly observes, Nevada State employees are one thing, County (and I would add education) is quite another. Broaden your search of Transparent Nevada to those and the real shock sets in. If ever there was an example of income inequality it is boldly illustrated there. College Admin and County police making mid to high 6 figure salaries while many State employees makes so little they qualify for welfare. Before we talk more revenue perhaps a little redistribution is in order there
  15. DEBoyd
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    DEBoyd - May 19, 2013 3:17 pm
    As my search showed and my comment said the bottom third are either part time or entry level jobs. That this makes one eligible for assistance is in no way surprising. This is no different than in the private sector. Understand that I am NOT claiming you are overpaid. I'm just saying what people who are in those job situations have always been at the bottom, that is not particularly unusual, and they will with a bit of effort work their way up. No plots. Nothing sinister.
  16. DEBoyd
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    DEBoyd - May 19, 2013 3:11 pm
    The search I did was limited to just NV State Employees. TN showed 400 pages of that category at 50 per page. TN makes no reference to private counterparts so there was nothing to "notice". I've seen claims both ways on that matter but that is irrelevant to the point that not everyone working for the State is hours from starvation as the comments here imply. In any event anyone can go and do their own searches of the data and prove to themselves what I claim is accurate.
  17. Stumpster
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    Stumpster - May 19, 2013 12:36 am
    Did you know that almost 1/3 of Nevada State employees found themselves eligible for SNAP (foodstamps) and Medicaid benefits because all of a sudden we found ourselves in a poverty situation?
    For years, it's been a battle between Public and Private sectors. Unfortunately the common misconception of most people in the US is with County versus State employees.
    It doesn't help that we've had to deal with Fraud in County Employ- CCFD comes to mind- that have damaged State reputations as well.
  18. Stumpster
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    Stumpster - May 19, 2013 12:26 am
    When I bacame a State employee 6½ years ago, I honestly thought that I had finally achieved stability. Sadly, a 1½ years into the job, I found myself being punished simply for being a State employee. Living in RURAL Nevada has had it's challenges, but when having to pay on average 80 cents more per gallon of gas than average, paying 20% more for basic necessities, no access to public transportation or other public services, even bringing home a NET biweekly paycheck of $580 is tough to live on
  19. Stumpster
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    Stumpster - May 19, 2013 12:11 am
    @ DEBoyd- It seems you view yourself as a person that knows what everyone else thinks, feels, enjoys, dislikes. I have to say that you have your facts wrong on many accounts when it comes to state workers.
    First off- did you differentiate between State and County employees? Second, did you differentiate between elected and regular salaried employees of the state? Third, did you happen to notice that the majority of salaried employees make LESS than private sector counterparts?
  20. DEBoyd
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    DEBoyd - May 18, 2013 6:00 am
    "are as narrow minded as those they represent" "those who maintain the status quo"

    So Jennifer and her commentor shills cut and paste their way in from the RGJ to present their view that we are a bunch of narrow-minded scum because we show no appreciation for their awesomeness and when challenged feel no obligation to clarify or defend their accusations? As a plan to drum up public support lets just say this leaves a bit to be desired.
  21. DEBoyd
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    DEBoyd - May 18, 2013 5:01 am
    So you are suggesting that your pay should be based upon your needs? And I'm guessing what you contribute should be based upon your abilities? And you want the State to impose a requirement on the public to do this? Hmmm. Where have I heard that line of thinking before?
  22. DEBoyd
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    DEBoyd - May 17, 2013 6:06 am
    People do not hate you because you work for the State. What they hate is the patronizing Workers of the World Unite flavor of "we have been trained to fight against social inequality & injustice for all people", "state employees who have been on the front lines", "are as narrow minded as those they represent", self-adulation in promotion of Progressivism. Do you really think this will persuade people to your side?
  23. DEBoyd
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    DEBoyd - May 17, 2013 5:32 am
    A review of 20,000 State worker pay scales at Transparent Nevada shows there is a lot more to this story than is being presented here. 62% of State workers make higher than Nevada's average wage. 20% are low paid because they are part time. The rest make around $10 to $16 per hour for what are mostly entry level jobs. In addition, all receive other benefits and have job security we in the private sector do not. Ask yourself if in today's economy this seems unreasonable.
  24. JoMain
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    JoMain - May 16, 2013 9:04 pm
    NV employees, the ones who actually have a stake in NV, were taking pay cuts, and losing their homes, Out-of-State mining Corps were taking $Billions out of NV, while contributing a measly ~1%. NV employees got the shaft, in addition to our NV's education. Newmont and Barrick blew the $Billions they made from NV on mining failures elsewhere. Without passing SJR 15, NV's where will the $ come from? PASS SJR15 Ellison! Let NV employees in Elko vote. Copy, Past URL http://tinyurl.com/passSJR15Elko
  25. LauraKMM
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    LauraKMM - May 16, 2013 2:07 pm
    Welcome to Nevada, where we dump our mental health patients and dump on our state employees who have been on the front lines dealing with an ever-growing population Nevadans needing public services. Now these employees find themselves eligible for these same services, and Governor Sandoval wants to make their pay cuts permanent. Sandoval has only ever cared about business in the state, and the people of Nevada are suffering for it.
  26. Potsydog
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    Potsydog - May 16, 2013 12:38 pm
    The dislike the public has for State workers has become a cliché, a punch line spoken at dinner parties and in beauty salons. We are never going to convince the public that we are people, like them, with the same faults, fears, responsibilities, integrity, weaknesses, triumphs and failures. It is unfortunate that those who represent all people of this State, including its workers, are as narrow minded as those they represent and are more worried about votes than doing what is right. It's also unfortunate that this Democracy rewards those who maintain the status quo and not those who stand up and say "It's enough, no more". People need to realize that by mistreating public servants, the Legislature is mistreating all citizens of this State and in doing so are proclaiming that the people that live in this State are getting exactly what they deserve. We are YOU and we all deserve the same respect.
  27. TJONES
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    TJONES - May 16, 2013 12:36 pm
    Jennifer, I agree with your article whole heartedly. I am also a state worker and a social worker. As a social worker we have been trained to fight against social inequality & in justice for all people. We go through our days advocating for our clients rights. It’s our time to fight for our rights, as State of Nevada employees we have accepted the furloughs, health insurance cuts and the 2.5 cut in pay. Over the years we have seen fellow employees losing their homes, becoming ill and not being able to pay for their medical bills.
    When are we going to receive appreciation of being State of Nevada employee? It’s time for all State of Nevada employees to speak out about their concerns their hardships. We have been quite for too long and our governor has taken advantage of our quietness. Speak out and stand up fellow State Workers!
  28. gigster
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    gigster - May 16, 2013 12:21 pm
    Ask any NV state employee about the way they have been treated over the last 4 years and every single one of them will tell you that it's been a nightmare. We are asked to do more with less everyday. I had to opt out of the health insurance because it is too costly for my family. Food and housing is more important than medical care I suppose. I had to make an adjustment somewhere. State workers are great people who are underpaid and under appreciated. New hires = 482$/2 weeks after deduction
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