State budget woes to continue

CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons and state legislators cannot count on a quick recovery from the severe economic downturn that has left them scampering to find where to cut $898 million from Nevada’s two-year budget.

Economists and housing industry experts predict the state’s flat economy won’t turn around before the last half of 2009 and might not regain its usual robust growth for another three to five years.

That means the state’s top elected officials not only face decisions this week on how to make dramatic cuts, they’re also likely to go into the legislative session next year with tax revenues no larger than today’s.

"Our state is going to be in a world of hurt," said Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno. "That reality is starting to sink in at my level. It is frightening."

Legislators and Gibbons are scheduled to resume discussions today on how to cut an additional $333 million out of the $6.8 billion two-year budget without cutting services or laying off workers.

Another $565 million was cut in January, including a 4.5 percent reduction for state agencies.

The time when politicians could campaign for more full-day kindergarten classes and expansion of state services is over, said Eric Herzik, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"It is not a rosy future," he said. "Remember, just six months ago people were saying Jim Gibbons was making things up when he started talking about budget cuts. Well, nobody is in denial anymore."

Herzik said legislators are going to walk into the 2009 session with no ability to expand services unless they increase taxes at a time "when people in the state are hurting."

Gibbons vowed within hours after the 2007 session ended to veto any bills increasing taxes in 2009.

Democratic leaders such as Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley won’t lead the charge for higher taxes if they have aspirations for the governor’s race in 2010, Herzik predicted.

But Buckley said Saturday the only thing she is certain to do at this point is seek re-election to the Assembly, where she’ll seek to protect public education and other government services from additional cuts.

"This is the real thing," state Sen. Bob Beers said about the downturn. "It is certain Nevada families are dealing with less, and my concern is we would hurt them further by a misguided reaction to it by raising taxes."

Beers, R-Las Vegas, blames the record $833 million tax increase in 2003 and the move by health care advocates — and approved by voters — to prohibit smoking in restaurants and bars in 2006 for exacerbating the current economic crisis.

He said the tax increases and the smoking ban caused some people to cut back on purchases and not eat out as much.

Budget Director Andrew Clinger said a number of cuts being considered include:

Taking $40 million in general fund revenue set aside for the $245 million expansion of Interstate 15 from the Spaghetti Bowl to Craig Road in Las Vegas. The project still would be built on schedule, but paid for using Transportation Department gasoline tax money.

Delaying construction of the $90 million Health Sciences Center on university campuses, and possibly postponing the expansion of four state prisons. Those projects still would be designed, but construction would be delayed. The governor wants to save $150 million to $180 million by delaying construction projects.

Using the $35 million left in the state’s rainy day fund and postponing the payment of $36 million set aside to settle a tax case with Southern California Edison, which operated a now closed power plant near Laughlin.

Requiring state agencies to cut spending in the fiscal year starting July 1 by $52 million, or 3 percent. The agencies affected have not been determined.

Although revenue has fallen far below expectations, Nevada growth has not stopped.

State Demographer Jeff Hardcastle reported Wednesday that the state population growth slowed to a 3.6 percent increase in the year ending June 30.

But the state still added 95,287 residents. And the U.S. Census Bureau announced in December that Nevada was the fastest-growing state for the 20th time in 21 years.

Public school enrollment also has slowed, but is expected to increase by 13,750 students in the 2009-11 budget period.

Nevada now spends $5,100 per student, or more than 35 percent of the state’s budget, on public school education.

Legislators are beginning to realize there will be little, if any, additional money to cover this growth and inflation, which averaged 4 percent over the last 12 months.

"It is a problem we will have to deal with," said state Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno.

Gibbons said last Monday he intends to balance the budget now and again in 2009 without taking more taxes from residents who must pay $5 per gallon for milk and more than $3 per gallon for gasoline.

Raggio, a state senator for 35 years, said the downturn is not that unusual.

"Percentagewise it probably is less than during (Gov. Bob) Miller’s administration," he said. "There are 27 other states to my knowledge that have similar problems."

Raggio remembers Miller cutting spending by more than 10 percent during a recession in 1991-92.

The current revenue decline is 8.7 percent.

But the economy quickly recovered after Miller’s cuts.

That might not happen this time, said Dennis Smith, president of Home Builders Research in Las Vegas.

"I am not sure yet we have hit bottom," Smith said about the slump in the housing market. "I do not see a return to the heyday (of 2004-06). Loans are harder to get. It will turn around. How long is it going to take? Maybe three years to five years."

Herzik said the difference from the recession in Miller’s administration was that state tourism declined largely because of poor economies in California and other states.

"This time it is affecting Nevadans," he said. "The housing slump, the foreclosures have hit Nevada worse than anywhere else. In the past, bad things happened to other people."

State economist Jim Shabi sees some recovery occurring late in 2009, when the City Center hotel-condominum complex in Las Vegas is expected to open and offer 12,000 jobs.

But the tightening of credit standards makes it difficult to acquire loans for both residential and commercial construction, and gaming industry executives might postpone big Southern Nevada projects, he said.

"We really don’t have a crystal ball that says when we will recover," Shabi said. "They (lenders) aren’t giving away money any more."

The drop in real estate sales has been blamed by Clinger for spawning state government’s economic woes.

At briefings, he has explained that when home sales began to decline last year, residents also did not buy as many big ticket items like cars and refrigerators.

That caused sale tax receipts to plunge.

Then, gasoline prices skyrocketed and people didn’t have as much discretionary income to spend on eating out and shopping in the local malls.

Keith Schwer, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV, is more optimistic than others about a quicker recovery.

He predicts a bump in the economy late this spring when taxpayers receive $600 rebate checks under the federal economic stimulus plan.

"It won’t be dramatic, but it will help," Schwer said. "It is hard to see a big recession coming. We aren’t falling off the face of the earth. We still have some job growth, and increased job growth will go a long way toward filling up excess housing units."

Herzik noted even cigarette and liquor sales are off during the current downturn.

"What we need is for people to start gambling, drinking and smoking," said Herzik, not entirely in jest.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.

Watch Las Vegas police wild pursuit through busy Las Vegas streets
An intense chase near Downtown Las Vegas ends after gunfire is exchanged as the suspect flees on busy streets and ends up near an elementary school. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Man shot strolling through park
A man was hospitalized early Tuesday morning after being shot while walking in a central Las Vegas park. Las Vegas police say the man and a woman were in Molasky Park just after midnight when the man was shot. The pair ran to a nearby supermarket where a security guard called for help. The man was hospitalized and as of 3 a.m. was in stable condition. Police have yet to identify the shooter and no suspects are in custody.
Police investigating shooting at east valley apartment complex
No one was injured late Monday night after someone fired shots at a vehicle at an east valley apartment complex. Police responded just before midnight to the Hamptons Apartments, 3070 S. Nellis Blvd. Someone fired shots at a vehicle that was leaving the complex, and struck the vehicle. Another bullet struck a nearby apartment building. The shooter or shooters remain at-large.
Hundreds Attend Slides, Rides and Rock and Roll in North Las Vegas
Hundreds attended the inaugural slides, rides and rock and roll event in North Las Vegas Saturday. The event featured a car show, water slide park and live music. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
It's All Rainbows At The Center's New Cafe
The Gay and Lesbian Center of Southern Nevada (The Center) introduced its new coffeeshop, Little Rainbow Cafe, in June. Rainbows are everywhere, even in the lattes and toast, and employees wear t-shirts with the quote "Be a rainbow in someone's cloud." Owner Ben Sabouri said the concept is "built around the idea of, you know, be kind and treat everybody the same." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a Rainbow Latte at the The Center's Little Rainbow Cafe
The Center, a community center for the LGBTQ community of Southern Nevada, has a new cafe. Little Rainbow Cafe serves up a pride-inspired signature "Rainbow Latte." (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed trying to cross Sahara
A pedestrian was killed Friday trying to cross Sahara Avenue near Maryland Parkway about 5 a.m. A sedan struck the pedestrian while the person was outside the crosswalk between Maryland Parkway and Pardee Place, according to Las Vegas police. Police also said the driver of the sedan remained at the site of the crash. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene. This is the 75th fatal crash that Las Vegas police have investigated in 2018.
Man shot multiple times
Las Vegas police are investigating after a man was shot multiple times early Friday morning. The shooting was called in about 3:20 a.m. at the Harbor Island Apartments, 370 E. Harmon Ave., near Koval Lane. The man was hospitalized and is expected to survive, but police are still searching for the shooter.
Former Military Police Corps Officer Celebrates 100th Birthday
Summerlin resident Gene Stephens, who served as a military policeman in WWII and escorted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and President Roosevelt during the war, turned 100 on July 13, 2018. He credits his longevity to living a normal life, exercising regularly and eating three square meals a day. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Motorcyclist suffers serious injuries
A motorcycle rider was seriously injured Tuesday night after a crash on Charleston Boulevard. The crash was reported just before 10 p.m. near Durango Drive, according to Las Vegas police. The motorcyclist was hospitalized with unknown injuries but is expected to survive. Las Vegas police are investigating the cause of the accident.
CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara Has Lunch With Students
New Clark County School District superintendent Jesus Jara continued his listening tour by having lunch with students at Red Rock Elementary School as part of the district's summer lunch program. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children under the age of 18 can find a free lunch at 104 different locations across the valley through the summer months. Jara highlighted the free program and the importance of eating healthy during his visit. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Timeline Leading Up to Scott Dozier's Execution
Scott Dozier is set to be executed by lethal injection the night of July 11 at Ely State Prison. Dozier was convicted of the April 2002 killing of 22-year-old Jeremiah Miller and was given the death penalty in Oct. 2007. In 2016 Dozier asked in a letter to District Judge Jennifer Togliatti requesting that he “be put to death.” A three-drug cocktail of midazolam, a sedative; the painkiller fentanyl; and cisatracurium, a paralytic, is expected to end his life. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Program Helps Mothers Battling Addiction
Jennifer Stanert has battled drug addiction on and off for the last 21 years. It caused her to lose custody of one of her children, Alec, after she gave birth while high. A new program at Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican Hospitals aims to connect mothers like Stanert with community resources and provide case management services while still pregnant to get connected to lactation and parenting classes, group peer support and education on neonatal abstinence syndrome. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Felon caught with guns in Mandalay Bay room 3 years before Las Vegas shooting
A felon was caught with guns in a Mandalay Bay hotel room three years before the October 1st mass shooting. Six weapons were found inside Kye Aaron Dunbar’s 24th floor room in November 2014. Four were semi-automatic. One was a scoped rifle pointing toward the Strip, according to court documents. Dunbar was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for unlawful possession. The case just came to light in a lawsuit accusing Mandalay Bay of negligence in connection with the Oct. 1st shooting.
Illegal fireworks in the Las Vegas area garner complaints
Clark County received nearly 25,000 complaints over the Independence Day holiday on a new illegal fireworks site. Reports from the site led to at least 10 illegal fireworks busts across the valley overnight. As of Thursday morning, the county is still compiling the total number of citations issued.
House fire displaces 2 people
Two people were displaced after a house fire early Thursday morning. The fire, at 963 Temple Drive in east Las Vegas, was reported just after midnight, according to a battalion chief from the Clark County Fire Department. Crews from the North Las Vegas and Las Vegas fire departments also were called in to help. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
"Red White and Boom" July 4 Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Full video of the Fourth of July "Red White and Boom" fireworks show at the Stratosphere as seen from the 8th floor Elation Pool. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite
July 4th fireworks at the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite. (7-04-18) (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Crowds Enjoy Fireworks at the Stratosphere
Revelers enjoyed watching fireworks displays from the Stratosphere's 8th floor Elation pool on July 4. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pedestrian killed in Henderson
A pedestrian trying to cross St. Rose Parkway at Bermuda was hit by a vehicle on Tuesday night and later died. The crash was reported around 11:30 p.m. Las Vegas police responded initially, but handed over the investigation to Henderson police once it was determined the accident happened in their jurisdiction. Las Vegas police did respond to a report of a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle on the Strip. The person, who was hit by a BMW near Fashion Show mall, suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.
USPS owes $3.5 million for using Vegas Statue of Liberty on stamp
The United States Postal Service has been ordered to pay $3.5 million to a sculptor after using the Las Vegas replica of the Statue of Liberty in a stamp. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Officer Brent Horlacher shoots at Jessie Murillo
Las Vegas police video of an officer-involved shooting on June 29, 2018. Officer Brent Horlacher, 28, fired a single shot at suspect Jessie Murillo. Murillo was not injured. The radio audio is of the officer who fired the gun and the body camera video is from a different officer. Radio audio excerpts are added to the video and are not the precise times the audio was spoken.
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
UNLV professor cautions dangers of distracted walking
An alarming number of adults do not cross the street safely according to a study conducted by professor Tim Bungum of the School of Community Health Sciences at the UNLV. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas-Review Journal) @brokejournalist
Car left in remote desert 21 years is recovered for late owner's children
Showboat casino blackjack dealer Mark Blackburn died outside of White Hills, Ariz. 21 years ago. His 1980 Datsun B310 wagon remained in the remote desert until a network of volunteers recovered the car for his children. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Resort on Mount Charleston Sold for $4.8 million
North Carolina couple and hoteliers Deanna and Colin Crossman have purchased the Resort on Mount Charleston for $4.8 million. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Traffic stop turns into officer-involved shooting
Las Vegas police are investigating after an officer fired a shot at a suspect fleeing a traffic stop early Friday morning. The officer tried to pull over a black Dodge Durango with license plates that belonged to a different vehicle. The driver took off northbound on Lamb Boulevard and at one point crossed into the southbound lanes. A man got out of the car and fled on foot. During the chase, the officer saw something in the man’s hand and fired a single shot, police said. The man wasn’t injured and was later taken into custody. Police could not confirm if the man had a weapon when he was arrested. This is the 9th officer involved shooting of 2018. Per police policy, the identity of the officer will be released after 48 hours. 01:05
5 Dead in Shooting at Capital Gazette Newspaper in Maryland
5 Dead in Shooting at Capital Gazette Newspaper in Maryland Five people have been killed and two have been injured in a "targeted attack" at the newspaper, which is owned by the Baltimore Sun. Anne Arundel County deputy police chief Bill Krampf said the suspected gunman entered the building with a shotgun and walked through the lower level of the building, where the newspaper is housed. According to Krampf, the suspect "possibly" had a connection to the paper through social media. The suspect was identified as Jarrod Warren Ramos. Ramos filed a defamation claim in 2012 against the paper but the case was dismissed. He is currently in custody. President Trump was briefed on the events.
Clark County Fire inspects fireworks booths
Clark County Fire Prevention Inspector Amanda Wildermuth talks about inspecting fireworks booths to keep everyone safe on Fourth of July. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like