Panel sets first lady's travel budget

CARSON CITY -- Republican first lady Dawn Gibbons found an unexpected champion Thursday in Assembly Ways and Means Chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas.

When some members of his committee sought to cut travel expenses for Gibbons, Arberry interceded.

"We can't penalize the first lady," Arberry told the predominantly Democratic committee. "The governor is the governor. They are hooked together."

Through his efforts, the committee decided to give Dawn Gibbons, who served four terms in the Legislature, a $4,400 annual out-of-state travel budget and a $10,800 annual budget for in-state travel.

Assemblywoman Kathy McClain, D-Las Vegas, sought to cut spending for the first lady's travel. Only $555 was spent on travel for first lady Dema Guinn in the 2006 fiscal year. But legislative fiscal analyst Mark Stevens explained that Gov. Kenny Guinn frequently paid for his wife's travel.

The governor sometimes needs to have his wife accompany him on trips in the course of performing official duties, and officials should not expect her to fly at her own expense, Arberry said. Fellow members agreed and voted to restore Dawn Gibbons' travel budget to recommended levels.


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