Gibbons: Still no plans for special session
November 18, 2009
Contrary to persistent rumors, Gov. Jim Gibbons said Tuesday he hasn’t yet decided if and when to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with a growing budget shortfall.
Gibbons said he and his staff will make that decision after the Department of Taxation reports on revenues collected from July-September, the first quarter of Fiscal 2010, other than gaming and sales taxes. Those two major revenue streams, each worth nearly a third of total revenues, are reported monthly. Most others are tallied only quarterly.
Through September, gaming tax collections were about $15 million below the May Economic Forum projections used to build the state budget – some 6.8 percent short.
Sales tax collections through August were more than 8 percent short – about $10.9 million below projections.
There are more than a dozen other sources of General Fund revenue that are reported monthly. Director of Administration Andrew Clinger said those figures should be in hand before the end of the month.
His eyes will be on the two largest – the Insurance Premium Tax and the Modified Business Tax. While Clinger was unsure what the Insurance tax will come in at, he pointed out that the MBT is based on employment.
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“We know what that’s going to look like,” he said referencing Nevada’s 13.3 percent unemployment rate.
MBT was expected to generate more than $440 million this fiscal year – 13.4 percent of the total General Fund revenue.
The insurance tax was expected to bring in 7.5 percent of revenues – about $230 million this year.
Other revenue streams reported so far are also down. The casino Live Entertainment Tax was off nearly $3 million and the state portion of the room tax by $4.4 million.
Gibbons said Tuesday he and his staff have been working since the Legislature adjourned in June to minimize spending.
“My first goal is to keep down expenditures to the state,” said Gibbons. “We can do some things that could hold off the requirement for a special session.”
He said a special session is just one more expense and, if it can be avoided, will help keep costs down.
Clinger said that it wouldn’t be wise to wait too long to call lawmakers in if revenues continue to drop because doing so would increase the size of cuts needed to balance the budget when they finally do call a special session.
The latest rumors say a special session is being planned for January but there have been such rumors nearly every month since lawmakers adjourned in June.