CARSON CITY — What would happen if the Legislature scheduled a meeting on state spending and no agency directors showed up?
That question will be answered today at the first meeting of the Legislature’s Committee for a Fundamental Review of the Base Budget of State Agencies.
Gov. Jim Gibbons asked state agency chiefs on June 24 not to participate in the committee’s meetings, questioning the legality of the panel created by the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee.
He said state agencies would have to spend too much time securing needless information, such as the whereabouts of a police dog
That was a reference to lawmakers’ request for information about the whereabouts of a police dog named Hilo during a 12-week period that began in October when the dog was deemed unfit for service and transferred to Utah. Gibbons balked at answering their questions.
The committee’s chairwoman, state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, said Tuesday that the meeting will proceed as scheduled at 9:30 a.m. today.
The panel is scheduled to review the budgets of the Building and Grounds Division and the Division of Parole and Probation. It will review other state agency budgets at later meetings.
“These probes impede the executive branch in fulfilling its core duties and attempt to force the executive branch to violate law,” Gibbons wrote to the Legislature, saying it already has sufficient information about state agency spending .
Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, named the committee during an Interim Finance Committee meeting in June.
With the state facing a shortfall of more than $3 billion, he said it was necessary to get a head start reviewing state spending. The Legislature’s next session will start Feb. 7.
Gibbons challenged the authority of the Interim Finance Committee, a group of 21 legislators who make decisions when the 63-member Legislature is not in session. Others also have challenged Interim Finance, but no lawsuits over its constitutionality have been filed.
Horsford, however, pointed out that the Legislature passed a law creating the subcommittee to review budgets in the 1990s and that it has met previously with no objections from governors.
“We are resuming the committee after a number of years,” Woodhouse said. “What we are doing is nothing new. We need to do work on budgets now so we are ready when the session begins.”