Seventy years ago, the 1947 Session of the Nevada Legislature passed the Nevada Retirement Act. This Act created the Nevada Public Employees' System and was signed into law on March 27, 1947, by Governor Vail Pittman.

The adoption of a retirement program for Nevada's public employees was influenced by several factors. First, the Nevada Legislature realized that Nevada was one of the few states that did not have an employee pension plan. In addition, the Social Security Administration of the federal government did not allow local government employee participation. It was also known that the number of retirement plans in private industry was steadily increasing. All of these factors made government employment less attractive in states like Nevada that did not offer pension protection.

It was also known that States with established retirement programs had favorable experience meeting their pension plan objectives. These included stabilization of employment conditions by reduction of personnel turnover, making long term employment attractive to persons of proven ability and capacity, improving employee morale with the promise of financial security at retirement, and the removal of "hidden pensioners" from employment.

Employees and employers did not actually begin contributing to the System until July 1, 1948, while payments for service retirement and disability retirement started July 1, 1949. Despite the one-year setback from the time contributions began coming into the System until the date benefits were first paid, the Legislature still had to appropriate $75,000 to meet the initial expenses of the system.

Obviously, much has changed since the plan was first created in 1947. The System started with approximately 3,000 members and 64 retirees. In 1949, the average retirement benefit was approximately $90 per month, and the Retirement Act limited benefits to a maximum of $200 per month. Keep in mind that in 1949, you could probably buy a pair of Levis for about $3.00.

Today, the Public Employees' Retirement System has approximately 105,000 active members and over 64,000 benefit recipients. The average monthly benefit for regular members of the system is over $2,800, and the System maintains a strong financial standing with over 38 billion in assets as of June 30, 2017.