Lawmakers cut the tape

CARSON CITY — By legislative standards, it was a four-minute mile.

With a route charted beforehand, the Nevada Legislature managed to go the distance Friday in a rare special session, approving $275 million in budget cuts to balance the budget for the fiscal year that starts Tuesday.

That’s not to say there weren’t a few bumps in the road. But conflicting budget plans and other disputes that could have extended the session for days, if not weeks, did not materialize.

In a speech to the Assembly early in the day, Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said: "The governor challenged lawmakers to meet this serious challenge, and meet it we will."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, predicted early on that lawmakers would finish in one day.

He was right. The Legislature adjourned a little over 12 hours after starting a process that Buckley said she never wanted to see repeated: cuts to a two-year budget that had already seen over $900 million in reductions and the consumption of the state’s entire rainy day fund.

Following adjournment, Gov. Jim Gibbons said he would review the approved bills in detail, but late Friday night he saw no problem in signing them into law.

He congratulated legislators for finding places to make $275 million in budget cuts without raising taxes, but predicted more tough times until the economy recovers.

Money for an expansion of all-day kindergarten and for the creation of empowerment schools, approved by lawmakers a little over a year ago, had already fallen under the ax in earlier rounds of cuts. Capital projects had been eliminated and prisons closed.

But the continuing economic slump made further cuts necessary. And Gibbons decided to call lawmakers in to help decide what to cut.

With the end of their special session in sight late Friday night, lawmakers were satisfied with their work, unpleasant though it may have been.

"We had some tough decisions to make," Raggio said. "We did it without raising taxes, and as I understand it, without laying off workers."

But Raggio said he was disappointed by what he called partisanship on the part of Senate Democrats near the end of the long day, particularly in a fight over cutting money for textbooks.

Senate Minority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, however, said he had never agreed in leadership budget negotiations that preceded the special session to cut textbooks. And when Senate Republicans earlier in the day killed a bill to collect millions in tax revenue from the gaming industry on the free meals they provide patrons and employees, Horsford decided to oppose the education cut.

The day got off to a smooth start.

Several bills implementing the plan, including a measure freeing up nearly $20 million in various legislative accounts to help fill the gap, were approved quickly by both houses of the Legislature and sent to Gibbons for his signature.

The deal approved by the Legislature includes cutting the textbook fund by half, generating $48 million, and implementing agency spending reductions worth $106 million. The reductions, which average 3 percent, will hit higher education and public education as well, but the cuts will be targeted, not across-the-board. The textbook money will not be cut if state tax revenues come in above expectations.

Except for three or four items, Gibbons said, the compromise reached by the Legislature was no different than the solution he advanced. The governor said he did not favor cutting textbook spending, but quickly added: "Politics is the art of compromise."

While the current budget may now be balanced, lawmakers face an even tougher challenge when they convene in February in their regular session. Even more cuts might be needed if the economy does not begin to turn around for the next two-year budget.

Gibbons is asking for 14 percent cuts from current spending levels in the 2009-2011 budget.

"I think it is pathetic our economy is not doing better than it is," said Gibbons.

The governor said he will be proposing a no-growth budget for the two-year period of July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2011 and continue to adhere to his pledge to veto any bills that raise taxes. He acknowledged that will mean a cut in services.

One glitch in Friday’s special session — which began, surprisingly enough, almost on time at 10 a.m. — was a gaming industry blind-sided over the bill to erase about $150 million in refunds due them because of a controversial Nevada Supreme Court ruling on taxing comped meals.

Bill Bible, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said members of the association were contacted to assess their position on Assembly Bill 2, which was intended to sidestep a Supreme Court ruling involving the Sparks Nugget. The court ruling stated taxes do not have to be paid on free meals provided to employees and patrons.

The issue became moot when the 11 GOP members of the Senate refused to support the measure.

Dying with the bill were potential amendments by Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, to eliminate "green" tax breaks to several Strip casino projects for environmental improvements, and another by Sen. Dina Titus D-Las Vegas, to allow Nevada to participate in any potential federal gasoline tax holidays.

The defeat of the AB2 did not affect the budget accord, however. The potential cost to the state of tax money lost on comped meals was not factored in to the $275 million shortfall because the decision on the court ruling is not final. The Supreme Court has been asked to reconsider its position, but has not yet made a decision.

Dino DiCianno, executive director of the Department of Taxation, said requests for refunds from casinos and restaurants as a result of the court ruling, now are worth $150 million. About $50 million of the total would come from state coffers.

The tax had been collected until the Supreme Court ruling.

Gibbons and many lawmakers said they wanted the bill to keep the potential $50 million hit to the state from becoming a reality later on.

But the measure, which passed the Assembly unanimously, bogged down in the Senate when the gaming industry concerns arose.

Robert Uithoven, representing the Las Vegas Sands Corp., said the company was opposed to the bill because it appeared the Legislature was trying to change a court decision it did not like. The bill was also retroactive, and would take away refunds owed to a number of hotel-casinos if it became law, he said.

"It is a substantial amount of money for each property," Uithoven said.

While the budget-balancing process flowed smoothly in the Assembly, Senate Democrats tried several times to amend bills as they made their way through the legislative process.

Horsford sought to amend the bill to cut textbook funding. His amendment would have expanded the authority of a new panel looking at how to eliminate government waste to include an examination of education funding issues. He also wanted to expand the panel to include lawmakers and to look at whether educational opportunities were equitable across the state.

Horsford said he was told by Spending and Government Efficiency Commission Chairman Bruce James that the panel does not have the authority to look for efficiencies in either higher education or public education budgets.

Raggio initially refused to accept the motion, saying the issue was not germane to the bill.

A vote was eventually allowed, and it failed on an 11-10 party line vote with Republicans opposing the measure.

Senate Democrats carried their fight to the floor votes as well, causing tempers to flare as the day wore on.

Horsford stood on the Senate floor to oppose Senate Bill 5, the bill to cut the textbook money. Schools in his district do not have enough textbooks, he said.

"I believe there are alternatives, there are other areas in this budget that could be cut," he said.

Raggio said Horsford and Senate Democrats had agreed to the bipartisan deal on the budget, including the textbook cut, which came from Nevada school superintendents as an alternative to cutting a 4 percent cost-of-living raise for teachers.

"All of a sudden everything has turned into a partisan display," Raggio said. "All of us have education as our first priority. So don’t use this for campaign purposes."

But Titus said the choices made by some lawmakers were plain wrong. She cited the support for cutting textbook money while at the same time rejecting an effort to collect taxes on comped meals provided by the gaming industry.

The textbook-cutting bill passed on a 12-9 vote on party lines except for Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, who voted in the majority with 11 Republicans.

There was a lot of angst, but also 40 votes, for the textbook bill in the Assembly.

Assemblyman Garn Mabey, R-Las Vegas, a physician, compared the legislators’ work to a surgeon operating on a patient.

"You do the best you can and finally let the body heal itself," Mabey said.

PROPOSED CUTS

The Senate-Assembly compromise plan to cut state spending by $275 million

• Cut state agency operating expenditures by an average of 3 percent. The Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee will approve the cuts. Saves $106.6 million.

• Return to the general fund money appropriated by the 2007 Legislature for pavement preservation projects. Adds $50 million.

• Reduce by 50 percent funding to purchase textbooks. If revenue projections in December show a smaller shortfall than predicted, the funds will be restored. Saves $48 million.

• Direct some Trust Fund for Public Health dollars to the general fund. Adds $27.3 million.

• Transfer some tobacco settlement funds to the general fund. Adds $8.6 million.

• Transfer $7.6 million in unclaimed property funds to the general fund. Adds $7.6 million.

• Recover revenue through a tax amnesty program. Adds $4 million.

• Direct some Disaster Relief Account dollars to the general fund. Adds $4 million.

• Take some of the Criminal History Repository reserve fund. Adds $4 million.

• Transfer to the general fund some money in a fund to care for low-level nuclear waste sites. Adds $4 million.

• Revert to the IFC some of the Homeowner’s Disaster Relief Fund. Adds $3.5 million.

• Tap some of the Mortgage Lending Reserve Fund. Adds $3.5 million.

• Transfer some SeniorRX program reserve funds to the general fund. Adds $3 million.

• Take some of the reserves of the Industry Development Revenue Bond Fund. Adds $800,000.

• Revert to the IFC unused youth parole funds. Adds $330,757.

• Revert back to the general fund unused Health Care Committee funds. Adds $200,000.

ad-high_impact_4
News
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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)
Politics
Nevada Politics Today: Robert Fellner
Nevada’s Supreme Court has ruled that public employee retiree payouts are public records and we’re talking someone from the winning side.
Rosen discusses plans and goals as U.S. Senator
U.S. Senator-elect Jacky Rosen meets with Las Vegas reporters to discuss her win and priorities as Nevada’s next senator.
The Right Take: Republicans Need To Advantage Of Third Party Candidates
Nevada had a blue wave on Tuesday, but some of Nevada’s most conservative voters amplified its reach.
Amy Tarkanian gives passionate speech after husband's election loss
Amy Tarkanian speaks to a small crowd after her husband, Danny Tarkanian, concedes the race for the 3rd Congressional District.
U.S. Senator-Elect Jacky Rosen gives her victory speech
After defeating Dean Heller for the Nevada Senate seat, Jacky Rosen gives her victory speech at Cesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Senator Dean Heller concedes in 2018 election
Senator Dean Heller concedes in 2018 election.
Nevada Election 2018 | Election Update
Nevada 2018 Election Update. Live from Las Vegas Review-Journal Studio with the latest results from election night.
Susie Lee defeats Danny Tarkanian in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District
Susie Lee delivers her acceptance speech after defeating Danny Tarkanian for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Nevada Election 2018 | Election Update
Nevada Election 2018: A late night for those wanting election results.
Nevada Election 2018 | Election Update
Nevada Election 2018: A late night for those wanting election results. The latest from the Las Vegas Review Journal. Studio anchor Aaron Drawhorn joined by columnist Victor Joecks discussing voter turnout and impact.
Scenes from the Nevada GOP Election Party
Crowds gather at Nevada's GOP Election Party at South Point in Clark County. Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Long lines in 2018 Nevada election in Las Vegas
Polling places in Clark County, Nev., saw long lines during the 2018 election.
Dennis Hof Wins, What Now?
Although Nevada Republicans have seen stronger elections, brothel owner Dennis Hof, who passed away unexpectedly October 16, managed to win his race for Assembly District 36 despite being dead. Hof ran as a Republican, calling himself the “Trump of Pahrump.” Although the colorful candidate and showman easily defeated his Democratic opponent from the grave, county commissioners from the three counties comprising District 36 must now meet to name Hof’s replacement.
Henderson voters talk about their voting experience
Henderson voters talk about their voting experience. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Voters hit the polls at Downtown Summerlin in Las Vegas
Voters, including first time voters, were lined up before the doors opened at the voting center in a tent in the parking lot behind Dillard’s at Downtown Summerlin. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Election Day time off
Nevada companies are required to give employees one to three hours of paid time off on Election Day, depending on the distance between the place of work and a polling location. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris Speaks at UNLV Rally
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaks at a UNLV rally hosted by the Nevada State Democratic Party.
Early voting ends Friday in Clark County
The final day of early voting is Friday, Nov. 2. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Voting locations will stay open past their scheduled closing time so long as people are waiting in line to cast ballots. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President’s son visits Las Vegas in support of Republican candidates
Eric and Lara Trump show their support for U.S. Representative Cresent Hardy and other Republican candidates during a rally at the Nevada Republican Party’s Summerlin office.
Barack Obama Encourages Las Vegas To Vote Early
Former President Barack Obama visits Las Vegas to encourage people to vote early for the midterm elections.
Former Vice President Joe Biden Speaks Along With Democrat Candidates Speak At #Risenvote Rally
Former Vice President Joe Biden Speaks at the #RiseNVote rally to get voters to vote early.
Heller, Rosen participate in debate
The senatorial debate between Dean Heller and Jacky Rosen highlighted differences between the candidates, who spent much of Friday night exchanging barbs on health care, immigration and gun control. (Courtesy KLAS-TV, Las Vegas)
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.
Duncan details his Safer Nevada plan, responds to campaign commercials
Nevada needs to increase the number of psychiatric ERs and the penalty for some serious crimes, according to Republican attorney general candidate Wes. He also contends that voters should consider Democrat candidate Aaron Ford’s multiple arrests and past tax liens.
The Right Take: Kavanaugh Testifies
Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her around 1982 when both were high school students. Her testimony didn’t provide any new information to corroborate her claims, but her emotion was visible for all to see. She projected a genuine belief that Kavanaugh assaulted her.
Nevada Politics Today: Jon Wellinghoff
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks interviews Jon Wellinghoff, CEO of Grid Policy.
The Right Take: Brett Kavanaugh
Two women have recently accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting them over three decades ago. Their allegations aren’t just unverified. Numerous supposed eyewitnesses have directly contradicted them.
Nevada Politics Today: Brett Kavanaugh And Trump
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks and Review-Journal columnist Debra J Saunders talk about Brett Kavanaugh and Trumps visit to Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today: Brett Kavanaugh And Trump
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks and Review-Journal columnist Debra J Saunders talk about Brett Kavanaugh and Trumps visit to Nevada.
Michael Ramirez Joins The Review-Journal Team
Pulitzer prize winning political cartoonist Michael Ramirez talks about joining the Review-Journal and how he started his career.
Nevada Politics Today: Danny Tarkanian
The federal government should create a high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Susie Lee, the Democrat running for Congressional District 3 is against ICE. She’s also ducking debates, despite once challenging her opponent to debate her. That’s according to Danny Tarkanian, the Republican nominee for CD3.
Nevada Politics Today: Danny Tarkanian
The federal government should create a high-risk pool for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Susie Lee, the Democrat running for Congressional District 3 is against ICE. She’s also ducking debates, despite once challenging her opponent to debate her. That’s according to Danny Tarkanian, the Republican nominee for CD3.
Vice President Mike Pence visits Nellis Air Force Base
During his second visit to Nevada, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to airmen inside a Nellis Air Force Base hangar and spent the afternoon campaigning for GOP Sen. Dean Heller and gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt.
Nevada Politics Today: Karen Wayland
Nevada Politics Today: Asm. Jim Marchant
Asm. Marchant talks about education, voter integrity and running for leadership Nevada should increase funding for Career and Technical Education, but shouldn’t automatically register voters at the DMV. Assembly Republicans will also oppose tax increases next legislative session. That’s according to Assemblyman Jim Marchant.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like