State employee furloughs or salary cuts must continue, Sandoval aide says

CARSON CITY -- Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval must continue unpaid furloughs or salary reductions for state employees next year as he tries to balance the out-of-whack state budget, one of his top aides said Wednesday.

"Something like the (current) furlough program is built into our budgeting," Dale Erquiaga, Sandoval's deputy transition director, said at a news conference. "There needs to be some continuation of furloughs or reduction of salaries."

Additional furlough days are possible, or furloughs could end, but state employees still would be asked to take salary cuts, he said.

But Sandoval has not made any "decision on any budget item," Erquiaga noted.

Possible budget-balancing options also include taking money from local governments or school districts, Erquiaga said, though Sandoval wants to end such "one-shot solutions" to balance the budget.

The Nevada Economic Forum ruled Dec. 1 that state tax revenues over the next two-year budget cycle will be $5.33 billion, or $1 billion less than current spending. State agencies, however, have requested $8.3 billion in spending.

Sandoval has vowed to veto any bill that increases taxes or reauthorizes existing taxes that are due to expire June 30.

Sandoval also has told school superintendents that he intends to introduce legislation to allow vouchers, grade public schools and end "school promotion" of students, Erquiaga said.

If private schools accept vouchers, they must be willing to be graded on their performance by the state, he said.

With vouchers, a public school student could transfer to a private school and the private school will receive state money that otherwise would have gone to public schools.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@ or 775-687-3901.