weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Budget cut proposals sought

CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons has told state agencies to produce new plans for budget cuts of up to $358 million this fiscal year, besides the $1.2 billion already cut.

The Republican governor’s budget director, Andrew Clinger, sent a letter to agency chiefs seeking details on how cuts of 4 percent, 7 percent and 11 percent would affect them. At 11 percent, the reductions amount to $358 million.

The plans are due Wednesday, a day before Gibbons’ meeting with lawmakers.

“We’re looking for scenarios. This is not what we’re proposing,” Gibbons spokesman Ben Kieckhefer said Thursday. “We want to see what the agencies would be facing. We need to be very clear about what we’re looking at when we talk to the legislators.”

Gibbons and lawmakers have slashed $1.2 billion from the state’s budget for a two-fiscal-year period ending next June. That reduced the budget by nearly a fifth. Now he says cuts of another $300 million or more are needed.

The governor also is figuring on a projected revenue shortfall of $1.5 billion in the next two-year budget cycle, which opens in July.

To cope with the shortfall in the next budget cycle, agency spending could be reduced by a third or more. But lawmakers have said cuts that deep must be avoided.

Gibbons said Monday one way to achieve part of the latest cuts under consideration would be to reduce state employees’ salaries. He said that would be a better than layoffs.

The governor couldn’t order pay cuts on his own. Lawmakers would have to authorize the step in a brief special session prior to the regular 2009 session which starts Feb. 2.

Dennis Mallory of the American Federation of Federal, State and Municipal Employees, which represents thousands of state workers, said the salary cut idea amounts to the same thing as raising workers’ taxes.

Mallory said his organization is willing to talk with the governor and lawmakers, but not about the salaries of clerks, secretaries and other lower-level employees. He said the average classified state employee makes about $35,000 a year and lower-level workers who haven’t reached the top of their scale make $10,000 to $15,000 less.

Even taking back all 6 percent in cost-of-living raises granted state workers this year wouldn’t come close to covering the state’s estimated shortfall.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Trump becomes first president ever indicted on federal charges

The indictment carries unmistakably grave legal consequences, including the possibility of prison if Trump’s convicted. And it comes as the 2024 campaign grows.