New Law To Cost Schools $3.8 Million

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Nevada's 17 school district superintendents say a legislative decision to make them take care of their own retirees will cost school districts $3.8 million this fiscal year.

Jim Hager, head of the Washoe County school district, told the legislators' Interim Finance Committee on Tuesday that the cost of complying with the law "was neither budgeted nor accounted for in local school district budgets." He asked the IFC to approve contingency fund money to cover the cost.

"Meeting the obligation of the measure without additional funding would force districts to take precious resources from programs already approved in local budgets and redirect them to the purposes outlined" in the new law, he argued.

Lawmakers voted last session to require school districts and other local governmental entities to offer their own retirees the same health benefit policies they give to their active workers. The practice of not providing health benefits for retirees saved those local entities a lot of money, which many of them put into better benefits for active workers.

But retirees complained the practice of "dumping" them on the state program upon retirement has forced those retirees to pay as much as $1,900 a month to cover themselves and their spouses.

The law also orders local governments and school districts to pool active and retired workers so that benefit costs for retirees aren't a lot higher than costs paid by active employees, and required those local entities to give their retirees now with the state plan a chance to return to local plans.

The IFC took no immediate action on the request.