Gov. Guinn says lawmakers can decide revenue spending | NevadaAppeal.com

Gov. Guinn says lawmakers can decide revenue spending

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn talks about his $300 million vehicle fee rebate in his office at the Capitol on Wednesday. Guinn has threatened to veto a state budget that doesn't include funding for his plan. State budget director Perry Comeaux, left, also attended the news conference.

Gov. Kenny Guinn said Wednesday lawmakers can decide how to spend the revenues added to the state treasury by the Economic Forum this week.

But he warned they had better not try get more for their pet projects by cutting back on the $300 million rebate or the money budgeted to bail out the Millennium Scholarship program.

The forum Monday added $180.1 million to its estimated state revenues for the coming two-year budget cycle and bumped up the surplus this year by $84.5 million.

Guinn said in the grand scheme of the state’s $5.75 billion general fund budget, that really isn’t much. And he said it’s even less when necessary budget corrections and changes are included.

When all is said and done, he said, there will only be about $92.5 million in new money for lawmakers to spend on ongoing state programs and $83 million in surplus one-shot money this year.

“The executive branch will not be asking for any of those additional dollars,” he said.

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He said his proposed executive budget covers what he sees as the state’s needs and, as long as the Millennium Scholarship and rebate aren’t tampered with, he won’t try tell legislators what priorities most deserve a piece of the new money.

He warned, however, that if they do cut back those two programs, he’ll fight back. He said Tuesday he might veto a budget that doesn’t include those items – especially the rebate of DMV fees promised Nevadans.

“If it’s not there, I’ll take whatever action is necessary to protect the people’s rebate,” he said Wednesday.

He also suggested if lawmakers want a suggestion where to put some of that money, all-day kindergarten might be a good idea. That would consume about $72 million of the new money in the ongoing category.

According to the spreadsheet presented by Director of Administration Perry Comeaux, the $180.1 million in new money plus other new money in the budget, some $56 million more in Local School Support Tax money resulting from the Forum’s projections and $7 million from bond refinancing gives the state a total of $245.3 million in ongoing revenue over his proposed budget. But budget amendments – including nearly $30 million in additions to the Medicaid budgets – eat the majority of that. When all those adjustments are made, there is just $92.4 million in uncommitted money, Guinn said.

The surplus, he said, totals some $606.5 million. But it takes more than $523 million to fund the rebate, put $122 million in the rainy-day fund, restore state reserve accounts and cover other supplemental appropriations – including another $23.5 million to make this year’s Medicaid budgets whole.

That leaves $83 million in uncommitted money, according to Guinn.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

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