Sandoval hints at plans to balance Nevada budget

Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval dropped some hints Wednesday about how he plans to balance Nevada’s upside-down budget.

But he didn’t dive into many specifics other than to repeat several times that spending cuts would be deep and widespread and that tax increases are off the table.

“A lot of folks have talked about the fact we need more taxes. The question that needs to be asked is who is going to pay them,” Sandoval said during a question-and-answer session with Las Vegas news media.

He talked about efforts to recruit new businesses and remained upbeat despite a bombardment of bad news that included an unemployment rate near 14 percent statewide, falling or flat tax revenue projections and poor performance by the state’s schools.

“If Nevada was a stock, I’d buy now because we are going up,” he said.

Sandoval, who is scheduled to take office Monday from fellow Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons, highlighted the devastating effect the recession has had on Nevada businesses and families and said the private sector doesn’t have extra money to hand over to government.

“Who are you going to collect that revenue from?” Sandoval asked.

Later, he added: “A tax has to be paid by somebody. There has never been a tax that wasn’t collected by somebody, from a struggling family, from a business.”

He did give some hints as to where he will find the cash to balance a general fund budget that, according to some estimates, has projected expenses outpacing anticipated revenue by about $3 billion from 2011 to 2013.

Sandoval indicated that he would consolidate services performed by the Department of Information Technology and that personnel management services from several departments could be folded into the Department of Personnel.

“We don’t need a personnel person in every single department of state government,” Sandoval said.

When asked about differences between the budget he plans to submit for printing a week from Friday and the proposals that agency chiefs submitted to Gibbons, Sandoval noted one change.

One agency budget suggested cutting personal care attendants who help the elderly and disabled. Sandoval said he will not cut the service.

“That was slated to be eliminated in (Gibbons’) budget,” Sandoval said. “There are other things … presented in the budget by Governor Gibbons that will not be part of our budget.”

Mike Willden, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the decision to maintain funding for personal care assistants will be good news for the 6,554 people who receive the service.

“The governor-elect I think heard loud and clear from the advocates in the disabled community and the people who receive those services, and he didn’t want us to make that cut,” Willden said.

The cut would have saved more than $50 million over the biennium but might have cost money in the long run because assistance with feeding, hygiene and toilet use helps prevent costlier medical problems from developing, Willden said.

He said personal care attendants are among optional services offered under Medicaid. Others include speech and physical therapy, elder day care, orthotics, prosthetics, vision, dental and other care.

Willden said there will be a “significant difference” in the budget his department submitted to Gibbons and what comes out of the Sandoval administration.

“Generally he is not in favor of cutting those optional services,” Willden said.

On education, Sandoval said he expects improvements in student performance in kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education despite the likelihood that more funding cuts are on the way.

“I think that the education system is going to understand there is going to be shared sacrifice in this,” he said. “Part of the conversation has to focus on not just the money. We need to improve systemically.”

Education, roughly 53 percent of the state general fund, has suffered from budget cuts and poor student performance in recent years.

Sandoval wants to reverse the performance trend but isn’t offering more money to offset earlier cuts and might propose even more cuts.

Walt Rulffes, former superintendent of the Clark County School District, said it would be difficult but not impossible to improve public school performance outcomes with flat or reduced funding.

“There is potential for improvement,” Rulffes said. “However, I don’t think we should look for big changes across the board for improvement.”

With more flexibility, Rulffes said, the district could focus more on student performance in core subjects such as math, English and science, which would have a positive effect on graduation rates.

He said new Superintendent Dwight Jones, who was out of town and unavailable for comment, could press the administration to commit to more funding in the future if schools meet performance targets.

Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, was more skeptical than Rulffes about the feasibility of enacting Sandoval’s vision.

Klaich said that the system already has absorbed cuts of about 20 percent and that more would compromise quality.

When asked whether the system could take more budget cuts and improve performance at the same time, Klaich responded: “I think the answer is ‘no.’ ”

Other cuts the governor-elect hinted were minor.

Sandoval said he will not accept a pay raise that is scheduled to kick in Saturday for the job of governor. And he will reduce his pay 4.6 percent, the amount state workers lose through furloughs, but will work on the furlough day.

Sandoval said he plans to work hard to forge relationships with legislators, local government officials and others to solve problems.

It’s a contrast from the governing style of Gibbons, who was criticized for being uninterested in the policy study and politicking.

“We’re two different people,” Sandoval said. “I’m going to be an individual who is engaged.”

Incoming Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said that Sandoval’s eagerness to work with the Legislature is a welcome change from Gibbons’ style and that the governor and legislative leaders probably will agree on many spending cuts.

But Oceguera said that cuts alone will not do the job and that it will take increased tax revenue to balance the budget.

“I think the governor is going to find there is a major hole in his budget,” Oceguera said.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@ or 702-477-3861.

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
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like