While Nevada’s public pension system is facing an $18 billion deficit, it’s cutting large pension checks to public employees who double dip by also collecting taxpayer funded salaries, including Gov. Joseph Lombardo.
The Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada, or NVPERS, is now $18 billion underfunded, Nevada Policy Research Institute reported. That shortfall is double what it was a year ago.
Lombardo, elected in November when he was Clark County Sheriff, has been collecting a pension since 2014 when he became sheriff after 26 years of service in the Las Vegas Metro Police Department.
His 2021 pension was $175,676, according to Transparent Nevada, while collecting a $192,000 sheriff’s salary, totaling $367,676 of taxpayer funded income.
His pension is in the top 95th percentile of all Nevada pensions, according to Transparent Nevada records.
Now as governor, Lombardo will make at least a combined $339,000 in pay — $163,474 in salary and $175,676, plus more in annual increases this year.
That’s more than five time the median household income in Nevada in 2021 - $65,686, according to Census records.
In his final year in the police department, Lombardo made a $179,359 salary, plus $264,163 in other pay, a final payout that most likely included many unused days of sick and vacation time. That brought his final total pay in the police department to $443,523.
That’s before he collected a single pension check.
There’s nothing in Nevada state law that prohibits this double dipping but large payouts like these are irresponsible with an underfunded pension system, and it’s no wonder NVPERS is raising annual contribution rates.
Lombardo’s predecessor Gov. Steve Sisolak donated his salary to public schools in the state throughout his four-year term.
Other governors have opted not to take their salary, including Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont since he took office in 2019, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzger, also since taking office in 2019.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum had to fight the state legislature in 2017 to be allowed to not stake a salary, rejecting a proposal to pay him $1, according to the Bismarck Tribune.
A spokesperson for the governor didn’t respond to our request for comment by our deadline.