Think tank sees inflated budget shortfall, no need to raise taxes

CARSON CITY — A conservative think tank is accusing state officials of misleading the public by exaggerating a projected state budget shortfall.

State officials, including Budget Director Andrew Clinger, have said that Nevada must tackle a $3 billion budget shortfall in a two-year period that starts July 1.

But the Nevada Policy Research Institute contends that the true figure is less than half that, $1.4 billion, and that spending must be trimmed rather than taxes increased.

Why the difference? The $3 billion figure includes new spending to end state worker furloughs and reinstate raises, to handle increases in Medicaid cases and to compensate for the loss of stimulus funding and temporary tax dollars.

The amount of the estimate — which Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said could be as high as $3.4 billion — is significant. It will guide spending and tax decisions by the Legislature and new governor when the state is mired in a recession. Next year, they must decide whether to increase taxes, cut services, reduce salaries and benefits, end furloughs, lay off workers or, as expected, do a little of everything.

Horsford said last week that he anticipates $1.5 billion in tax increases and $1.5 billion in spending cuts.

The institute suggests a different model.

"We need to restrain spending," said Victor Joecks, deputy communications director of the Las Vegas-based conservative think tank. "We don’t need to mislead the taxpayer into thinking it is a crisis."

But Clinger defended his use of the $3 billion figure, contending some additional spending is unavoidable because of increases in the Medicaid and other caseloads.

And Clinger said that there are several major items that affect the budget that the think tank did not mention and that his projection of a $3 billion shortfall includes the effects of tax increases that are ending, federal funds that are expiring and the continuing decline in tax receipts.

For instance, $600 million in federal stimulus funds used to balance the current two-year budget will not be available after this year. The Legislature must either cut spending by that amount or find another source of revenue.

Clinger said temporary tax increases — such as the 0.35 percentage point increase in the sales tax rate and a near doubling of the payroll tax — will expire June 30 unless reauthorized by the Legislature.

At the same time, the state is experiencing record growth in Medicaid and other social service caseloads. The net effect of the caseload growth and the loss of the temporary taxes is $500 million, Clinger said.

The Legislature needs to find additional revenue to cover the $500 million or cut spending by that amount.

Another $480 million must be found if the Legislature decides to re-establish the automatic pay increases that most state workers received in the past and if it discontinues the furlough program that requires employees to take one unpaid day off per month. The furlough program cut worker pay by 4.6 percent.

Most teachers and state employees before the 2009 session received grade-in-step pay increases of about 4.5 percent a year. Veteran employees not eligible for such increases typically received $50 to $100 a year in longevity pay for each year of service.

The furlough program and freeze on step and longevity pay will expire June 30. Clinger acknowledged the Legislature in 2011 could vote to keep the furloughs and freezes, sparing the need to find $480 million.

Joecks is disputing Clinger’s assertion that the state has to secure $8 billion in revenue during the next two-year budget period to cover furloughs, loss of federal funds and taxes and caseload growth.

"I want the issue framed correctly, and then we can have a debate on what spending should be," Joecks said.

Clinger told the news media two weeks ago that he is preparing a 2011-13 budget plan of slightly more than $5 billion that includes 10 percent cuts for all state agencies.

Joecks said state legislators used stimulus funds in the current budget to cover budget holes when they needed to make spending cuts.

Legislators during the 2010 special session also used $300 million in funding from state agency reserve accounts to cover current spending. That money will not be available in 2011.

Joecks said the institute last year found a way to balance the state budget without tax increases by reducing spending to 2003-05 budget levels, and it intends to come out with a balanced-budget plan for 2011-13 that will not call for increasing taxes.

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

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)
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
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like