Budget bills signed, including pay cuts

CARSON CITY -- To the surprise of no one, Gov. Brian Sandoval on Tuesday signed the five budget bills to fund the costs of state government for the next two years -- and to cut state employee wages by 2.5 percent.

Sandoval's decision to sign Assembly Bills 579 and 580 with Senate Bills 503, 504 and 505 never was in doubt because they represent his agreement with legislative leaders five days before the Legislature adjourned at 1 a.m. June 7.

Still waiting his signature is Assembly Bill 561, which would extend $620 million in taxes due to expire after June 30 but which Sandoval and legislators agreed to continue through June 30, 2014.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, went on vacation in Hawaii after the session without signing 63 legislative-approved bills, a requirement before they can be forwarded to the governor for his signature or veto. Bills with the speaker's signatures are expected to arrive in Carson City by Thursday.

Sandoval signed 12 bills into law Tuesday. He also vetoed his 13th bill of the session. Senate Bill 208 would have created a task force on employee misclassification. Pro-labor Democrats contended the bill was needed to prevent employers from deliberately classifying employees as independent contractors to avoid obligations to pay overtime, unemployment insurance and payroll taxes.

Sandoval, in his veto message, said it was important for the state labor commissioner and state agencies to watch for employee misclassification, but the bill implied their current efforts were "inadequate." He said that was not the case.

Bills signed into law Tuesday include the following:

■ Assembly Bill 579 appropriates $2.2 billion for public schools. Per capita funding, now $5,186 per student, will increase to $5,263 this fall and $5,374 in the fall of 2013.

■ Assembly Bill 580 appropriates $6.2 million to cover the costs of running state government, excluding the amount in AB579 for schools.

■ Senate Bill 503 authorizes state agencies to spend $11.1 billion in federal grants, fees, grants and other revenue during the next two years.

■ Senate Bill 504 sets aside $60 million for the state Public Works Board to spend on constructing and repairing state buildings.

■ Senate Bill 505, the state employee pay bill, requires state employees to take 2.5 percent pay cuts and to take six unpaid furlough days per year. The furlough days are equivalent to a 2.3 percent salary cut, so the total hit on them is a 4.8 percent salary reduction.

■ Senate Bill 374, proposed by Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, creates a 12-member committee to study how to fund higher education. Six of the members will be legislators, three members will be from the Board of Regents, and three will be appointed by the governor.

■ Senate Bill 276, proposed by Sens. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, and Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, requires school districts to take steps to stop bullying. The new law requires the Department of Education to establish a training program on bullying that school board members and school district staff must attend.

Principals must establish safety teams and investigate all reports of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment and intimidation. Principals must report all bullying incidents to school boards, and teachers must report all bullying they see. Parents of a student accused of bullying can appeal any discipline to the school board.

Almost all Republicans voted against the bill.