Pension abuse

A Chicago organization called Taxpayers United of America has issued a report titled “Nevada’s Staggering Government Pension System Revealed!”

The group’s numbers are staggering, all right. That’s probably because its people made them up. And they also failed to do basic research.

The numbers needed to make actual calculations were unavailable from the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System because of privacy rules, so Taxpayers United “estimated” pension costs. Nevertheless, many media outlets reported the findings straight, as though they had validity.

In one case the report—actually more of a news release—showcased Washoe County School Superintendent Heath Morrison as a particularly notable case of pension abuse: “Heath Morrison, a Washoe County government school district superintendent, has an estimated annual pension of $199,548, based on his actual annual gross of $259,153, with an estimated lifetime payout of $9,494,494.”

Except that Morrison, who is soon leaving to take another job, doesn’t get a pension. He didn’t work in Reno long enough to qualify for one. “Dr. Morrison is not vested in the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System and he will not be when he leaves … at the end of next week,” according to school district chief accountant Thomas Ciesynski.

Taxpayers United also estimated former UNLV basketball coach Lon Kruger annual pension payments at $466,000, which the Las Vegas Sun reported is four times the accurate figure.