Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval says Nevada should cut pay by 4 percent for state workers, including teachers, reduce public employee benefits and divert Clark County school construction funds to the general fund.
Those and other proposed cuts could save $542 million and were part of Sandoval’s short-term plan for Nevada.
"All Nevadans are facing tough times, and our state budget is experiencing unprecedented deficits," Sandoval said. "Revenues are down significantly, caseloads are up, and tough decisions will have to be made to keep our state solvent."
Policy activists across the ideological spectrum critiqued the plan.
Launce Rake of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada said cuts to schools and social services "will scare away investment and put us even deeper in the hole."
Geoff Lawrence from the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank, said Sandoval is overlooking many more potential savings.
"We proposed deregulation of a lot of regulated industries, which could have allowed for the dismantling of the agencies overseeing them," Lawrence said of the group’s own budget proposals. "We actually just eliminated the class-size reduction program. Research has shown the most influential factor on students’ learning ability is the quality of the teacher, not so much the size of the class."
A spokesman for Clark County Commission Chairman Rory Reid, the Democratic candidate for governor, said Sandoval’s plan is similar to the vision of unpopular incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons.
"Maybe the governor left his office door open last night, because it seems like one of his opponents came and stole all his budget ideas right off his desk," Reid spokesman Mike Trask said.
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