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Lawmakers still deadlocked over higher education spending

CARSON CITY — After hours of closed-door meetings, frustrated legislators are calling it a night, having failed to reach accord on the last major piece of the budget.

Negotiations on funding for the state’s higher education system began Friday and continued throughout the day today. Key lawmakers participating in the talks wouldn’t go into specifics but said they were at an impasse and would reconvene Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said the amount of money at the heart of the disagreement was a "small difference" in the context of the budget as a whole.

"Education needs to be protected — it’s what the public has demanded," he said.

Lawmakers don’t want to allow the 36 percent cut to higher education proposed by Gov. Jim Gibbons, he said, but "some of the cuts we would be forced to make without consensus would be just as bad. At some point you’ve got to draw the line, and for me it’s been education."

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said the issue is not only higher education but the budget as a whole.

"We are working together and trying to be supportive, but there are limits to what any one caucus is going to be able to support," he said.

Legislators, he said, are trying to balance the state services that are truly essential to fund with the potential burden on taxpayers.

 

Contact reporter Molly Ball at mball@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919.

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