Gibbons to address Nevada on budget crisis Feb. 8
Tribune Capitol Bureau
CARSON CITY, Nev. – Gov. Jim Gibbons will address Nevadans on Feb. 8 in a special “state of the state” speech to outline his plans to deal with the state budget crisis and to set a special session of the Legislature.
He announced the move in the wake of a special meeting of the Economic Forum that reduced projected revenues for this biennium by $580.4 million.
When the shortfall in sales tax and property tax revenues earmarked for Nevada’s school districts is added to that, the total shortfall facing Gibbons and lawmakers is about $1 billion.
Statute requires the state to make up any shortfall in K-12 education revenues to protect schools from program and teaching staff reductions during the school year.
The projected shortfall in sales tax revenues to the schools is $238.4 million, raising the total reduction to the current budget to $818.67 million.
The property tax shortfall hasn’t yet been calculated, but could add well over $100 million more to the total. In addition, the state is an estimated $60 million in the red in funding its share of Medicaid.
Gibbons has adamantly rejected any increase in taxes and he reaffirmed that position in his announcement.
“Just like families all across Nevada suffering to make ends meet, state government must live within its means,” Gibbons said. “It is irresponsible to spend money we don’t have. The state simply must reduce spending.”
Gibbons has already asked his agencies to develop plans for budget cuts of up to 10 percent. If total cuts approach $1 billion, that would require general fund cuts of more than 15 percent.
Following Friday’s forum meeting, his cabinet, top deputies and analysts from the budget office are meeting through this week to determine exactly how much state agencies have saved through reductions, holding positions vacant, employee furloughs and other moves that have already been implemented. That will give them the amount that must still be cut from state budgets.
At that point, it will be up to the individual agencies to spell out exactly what those added cuts would do to services and programs provided by those agencies.