CARSON CITY — Nevada state agencies have submitted general fund spending requests for the upcoming two-year budget totaling $7.7 billion, or about $1 billion more than was approved for the current spending plan by the 2013 Legislature.
The requests to Gov. Brian Sandoval are just that: requests.
Actual funding will depend on the amount of general fund revenue available. That won’t be finalized until early December, when the Economic Forum, a panel of fiscal experts, makes the revenue projections that must be used by Sandoval and the Legislature in adopting a balanced budget.
Sandoval will now proceed to prepare his proposed spending plan for the 2015-17 biennium based on these recommendations from his Cabinet. If he is re-elected Nov. 4, Sandoval’s final budget will be released in mid-January when he delivers his State of the State address.
The 2013 Legislature appropriated just over $6.7 billion in general fund revenue to run state government in the current two-year budget, according to the Legislature’s Appropriations Report.
The next state budget will take effect on July 1, 2015, and run through June 30, 2017.
Public education, higher education and human services, including Medicaid, make up more than 80 percent of the current general fund budget.
Sandoval and the 2015 Legislature will face a number of challenges in crafting a balanced budget, including an increasing Medicaid caseload and demands for more funding for public education and mental health needs.
There is also the question of whether Sandoval will recommend extending a package of temporary tax hikes in the current budget that are set to expire on June 30, 2015.
Sandoval said this week that it is too early to determine if the sales and payroll tax increases, which are bringing in about $650 million in additional revenue to the current budget, will be extended for another two years. The “temporary” taxes were first approved by lawmakers in 2009 and have been extended every two years since then.
“It’s a process,” he said of building the budget. “The economy is getting stronger so I’m waiting to see exactly where we are. It’s really premature to be answering those questions.”
A wild card in the whole tax and budget process is what voters will do with Question 3 on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The measure would raise an estimated $700 million a year for public education by imposing a 2 percent tax on the gross revenue of businesses making more than $1 million a year.
Sandoval and many business groups are opposed to the proposal because of its potential effects on the economy and job growth.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.