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State transportation officials get $19,000 in new furniture

CARSON CITY — While other administrators of state agencies were looking last week at how to cut their budgets, Transportation Director Susan Martinovich had pricey new furniture placed in her office.

Martinovich and Deputy Director Scott Rawlins had $19,000 in new furniture installed in their Carson City offices, according to department spokesman Scott Magruder.

He added that the department was not asked to make any of the $112 million in budget cuts that Gov. Jim Gibbons requested from other agencies.

"The furniture was about 15 years old and falling apart," Magruder said.

Magruder said Martinovich’s old furniture will be used in her office in Las Vegas. He said she intends to spend more of her time in Southern Nevada working on local highway problems.

The Transportation Department is not funded from general fund revenue: sales, gaming, payroll and other taxes. Instead its revenue comes from gas taxes and federal grants. Gibbons did not request any belt-tightening regarding the spending of gas tax revenue.

The Transportation Department, however, faces a huge $3.8 billion long-term budget deficit.

A governor’s task force in December recommended a series of tax increases and tax changes to come up with the revenue needed to construct 10 major highway projects between 2008 and 2015. Gibbons rejected the task force’s recommendations.

Finding the revenue has become one of the key concerns at the 2007 Legislature. The Senate Taxation committee today is to debate SB324, a measure aimed at helping to resolve a multi-billion-dollar shortfall in road construction funds. During a speech last week, Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., said the actual deficit might be $8 billion.

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