Budget shortfall $898 million

CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons said Monday that the state’s revenue shortfall could reach almost $900 million but vowed to try every trick in the book to balance the budget without layoffs or further cuts to public education, public safety, and health and human services.

“These are tough times for the state of Nevada, for the citizens of Nevada,” said Gibbons during a media briefing after private sessions with legislative leaders.

In January, the administration estimated that the shortfall could reach $565 million by the end of the two-year budget cycle. But sales taxes, gaming taxes and other taxes have continued to decline as the economic downturn has worsened. The shortfall estimate of $898 million represents about 13 percent of the $6.8 billion budget approved last year for the budget cycle that runs through June 2009.

State Budget Director Andrew Clinger estimated that tax revenue in the current fiscal year will reach more than $3 billion, or 1.9 percent less than during the last fiscal year. Even during the year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, tax revenue in Nevada grew by 1 percent.

The current downturn is the worst since at least 1992 ,when Gov. Bob Miller cut spending by $173 million and laid off 236 workers. State government then was less than one-third the size that it is today.

Gibbons would not detail where he and legislators are looking to find the additional $333 million to cut.

But he and Clinger did give a general idea of where cuts might be made, including the following areas:

• Taking $40 million in general fund revenue set aside for the $170 million expansion of Interstate 15 from the Spaghetti Bowl to Craig Road in Las Vegas. The project still would be built on schedule, but paid for using Transportation Department gas tax money.

• Delaying construction of the $90 million Health Sciences Center on university campuses, and possibly delaying the expansion of as many as four state prisons. Those projects still would be designed, but actual construction would not begin before the economy had recovered. In all, the governor wants to save $180 million by delaying construction projects.

• Using the $35 million left in the state’s rainy day fund and postponing the payment of $36 million set aside to settle a tax case with Southern California Edison, which operated a now closed power plant near Laughlin.

• Requiring state agencies to cut spending in the fiscal year starting July 1 by $52 million, or 3 percent. The agencies affected have not been determined.

Not under consideration for cuts is a 4 percent pay increase for state employees and teachers scheduled to begin in July.

The pay increase will cost $130 million.

Instead of laying off workers in 1992, Miller tried to postpone a scheduled pay increase.

The State of Nevada Employees Association challenged his decision, and the state Supreme Court ruled the governor did not have the authority to block the pay increase.

Gibbons said he intends to meet with legislative leaders again late this week or early next week.

Despite saying he has the final say on cuts, the governor nonetheless is working with legislators. Their ideas of where to cut coincide with his own, Gibbons said.

He hopes to announce where cuts specifically will be made in the next two to three weeks.

“We are one Nevada, whether you are in the Legislature or in the administration,” he said.

Gibbons emphasized that he will not call the Legislature, which goes into regular session in February, into a special session or support a tax increase to balance the budget.

“How can state government turn to people who are having to do with less?” asked Gibbons, noting he was shocked to pay $5 recently for a gallon of milk.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said there is a general consensus to try to avoid any further operating budget cuts to public education, higher education, and health and human services.

State agencies were ordered in January to cut their spending by 4.5 percent.

“Legislative leaders and the governor discussed ways to try not to harm the education budgets and the health care budgets while still maintaining a balanced budget,” she said. “There seems to be a willingness to work together.”

Further cuts in education or health programs would do serious harm, she added.

But Buckley would prefer not to delay the Health Sciences Center. The project to expand facilities to train more doctors, nurses and other health professionals “is very important to our state,” she said.

University system Chancellor Jim Rogers said a short delay shouldn’t hurt the Health Sciences Center project. The system needs to raise $38 million in private funds to match the state funds committed to the project.

But a prolonged delay, one that stretches into years, is going to damage the system’s ability to raise that money if potential donors see that state financing has been withdrawn.

“I’m starting to think we have a better shot at getting money from private donors than we do from the state,” said Rogers, who likened the recent rounds of budget downsizing to “Chinese water torture.”

But both Buckley and Gibbons expressed concerns about what decisions they will have to make next year in the Legislature if the economy does not recover and they are considering the state budget for 2009-2011.

“If the economy doesn’t turn around, it will be a difficult year,” Buckley said.

Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, described the meeting with Gibbons as pleasant.

“There was nothing concrete decided,” she said. “Our staffs are working together to find possible ways to come up with the money.”

Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, also was pleased how both parties are working together on a solution.

“We are in a very difficult position,” she added. “There are no easy cuts.”

Lynn Warne, president of the State of Nevada Employees Association, expressed relief that public schools might be spared from additional cuts, after $92 million in cuts in January.

“I don’t know where the districts could cut any more without getting into actual programs,” she said.

Review-Journal writer Lisa Kim Bach contributed to this report. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or (775) 687-3901. Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or (775) 687-3900.

Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive Remembrance Wall
(Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive
Vitalent hosts a blood drive at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shootings. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October sunrise remembrance ceremony in Las Vegas
Myanda Smith, sister of Las Vegas shooting victim Neysa Tonks, speaks at the sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‪Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to crowd at Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬
‪Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the crowd at the Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim talks about college scholarship in his daughter's memory
Chris Davis, father of a Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim, Neysa Tonks, talks about a college scholarship in his daughter's memory to assist the children of those who died in the shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Oct. 1 survivor Malinda Baldridge talks about life after the shooting
Malinda Baldridge of Reno attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with her daughter, Breanna, 17, and was shot twice in the leg when the gunman fired on the crowd.
Route 91 survivor talks about lack of progress in gun legislation
Heather Gooze, a Route 91 survivor, talks about lack of progress in gun legislation since the Oct 1. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas/Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like