Next Sandoval budget to focus on major Nevada policy initiatives

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval’s chief of staff told state agency administrators Thursday that the budget that will be developed for the next two-year spending cycle will depart from past practice and instead focus on major policy initiatives.

The “Major Initiatives Process” will focus on Sandoval’s big picture priorities of improving health and education, growing the economy, putting more Nevadans to work, keeping communities safe and livable, and promoting a more responsive and efficient state government, Chief of Staff Gerald Gardner said.

“And that is really going to be the hallmark of this budget,” he said. “This budget is going to be characterized by its focus on these major policy initiatives identified by the governor and the executive branch agencies.”

As a result, the governor’s office does not want agencies to spend their valuable time on developing new programs, typically called items for special consideration, for submission to the Budget Office that often don’t make it into the final spending plan, Gardner said.

These objectives will be pursued while keeping in mind the state’s spending limitations, he said.

“We must keep in mind that we are still in a recovery period,” Gardner said. “And we must always keep in mind prudent fiscal policy, in terms of spending, in terms of managing revenue and in terms of savings for the future.”

Gardner made his remarks at an all-day meeting kicking off the budget development process for the 2015 legislative session. That process will continue through 2014 for a two-year spending plan that will take effect on July 1, 2015.

Gardner said the creation of the budget will be done collaboratively with state agencies.

“We believe that a collaborative, from the ground up approach, is a far more efficient and more effective way to deliver to the people of Nevada those things that government should be providing,” he said.

State Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp spoke to Nevada’s economic status at the meeting.

Nevada has been in the recession the longest of any other state and is the last to come out, he said.

“We’re still in the recovery mode,” Mohlenkamp said.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.