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Gibbons decides against session

CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons has no plans to call a special session of the Legislature to consider fixes to the state budget despite another dismal gaming tax report that came out Wednesday.

But today Gibbons will meet with legislative leaders and other state officials to consider possible solutions to what he is calling "the worst fiscal crisis in the state’s history."

In the state budget crisis in 1992 and 1993, revenues fell short of projections by about 5 percent a year. In contrast, state general fund revenues are expected to fall short by about 6 percent this fiscal year and 11 percent next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The gaming tax collections for April, released Wednesday, were 3.5 percent lower than the previous year. The state is now facing an additional projected budget shortfall of at least $67.5 million for the current biennium, bringing the total budget shortfall for the biennium to $980.5 million.

Gibbons and lawmakers have already approved various methods of filling $913 million of the shortfall through reductions in state spending, delaying one-shot appropriations and construction projects and tapping the state’s rainy day fund.

At today’s meeting, Gibbons and lawmakers will discuss ideas for balancing the state’s budget, including one potential interim solution proposed by Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki to use the state’s annual tobacco settlement payments to generate up to $775 million in bonds to help keep the state solvent.

"It’s important that all state leaders are on the same page about where we stand," Gibbons said.

Krolicki, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Treasurer Kate Marshall will also participate in the budget meeting.

In addition to the shortfall in the current budget, the next two-year budget faces severe revenue problems that the bond fund revenues could help ease.

But even if there is bipartisan support for the plan floated by Krolicki, it is unlikely to be taken up before the Legislature convenes in February, said Ben Kieckhefer, press secretary to Gibbons.

There is little appetite by lawmakers for a special legislative session, he said.

And with the 4 percent cost-of-living raises that will take effect July 1 off the table for possible cuts, there is little a special session could accomplish, Kieckhefer said.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-1760.

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