CARSON CITY — Work on Nevada’s two-year, $6.8 billion budget was completed by the Legislature’s money committees on Wednesday, improving chances they will finish their work by a Monday deadline.
Lawmakers from the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees resolved all their differences in the overall spending plan, reaching compromise in a number of minor areas.
The only issues left are the capital construction budget, which should be finished today, and any pet projects lawmakers can find money to fund.
Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, acknowledged lawmakers are looking at the “one-shot” appropriations in Gov. Jim Gibbons’ original budget — among them are $20 million for the Nevada Cancer Institute and $10 million for the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute — as places to find some funds for lawmaker projects.
None are expected to be eliminated, but they might be reduced to free up some money for lawmakers to spend as they see fit.
Those decisions will come after more closed-door sessions by legislative leaders.
In finishing up the budget, the money committees voted to increase the cash grants provided to needy families by 10 percent, the first increase since 1993.
The agreement will increase the grant under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program by $34.80 a month.
A family of three, typically a parent with two children, now receives $348 a month.
The grant amounts vary for families in subsidized housing and for those with larger households.
Assembly Democrats had sought a 15 percent increase. Senate Republicans had not proposed any increase.
“I would think that this is a reasonable compromise,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno.
The increase in the grant would cost more than $2 million over two years. It would come from a $29 million reserve that has built up for the program since it was depleted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The reserve can be used only for welfare-related programs.
There is a five-year limit on receiving the cash grant. Those who receive the grant also can receive Medicaid, food stamps and some other benefits.
The increase would take effect July 1.2007 Nevada Legislature