Raggio reacts to Assembly ultimatum on budget | NevadaAppeal.com

Raggio reacts to Assembly ultimatum on budget

Budget negotiations, which were at an impasse most of Friday, showed faint signs of life late in the day as tempers eased.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, started the day blaming the situation on Speaker Richard Perkins for refusing to discuss any other budget issues until the Senate agrees to fund all-day kindergarten.

“I am disconcerted by the comments of the speaker in this morning’s paper that it isn’t worth talking about other issues until we have all-day kindergarten,” he said. “The speaker has thrown down a gauntlet that unless something is done about all-day kindergarten, nothing else will be done.

“If that’s going to be the attitude, there’s not going to be any movement and the fault will be with the speaker and the Assembly,” said Raggio.

Perkins, D-Henderson, at one point indicated the issue was so important they might hold out until a special session was necessary. But late in the day, he took a softer tone.

“All-day kindergarten is worth fighting for,” he said. But he indicated there is room to resolve the issue if both sides give a little.

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Raggio too softened his tone sending Perkins a note saying he is available to discuss budget issues.

Both, however, said there had been no time to resolve budget issues on Friday because of the need to meet the midnight deadline requiring all bills be passed from the second house or die.

Both houses went to work Friday evening passing each other’s bills. Raggio said that would clear the way to concentrate on the budget issues. Both houses scheduled morning sessions today to handle clean-up issues and leave the door open for possible budget negotiations but Raggio said they expect to take Sunday off.

The two houses remain at odds over both all-day kindergarten and the capital construction budgets. Staff analysts are pushing for decisions saying they need at least a week to put those final actions into the state budget by June 6, the constitutionally mandated end of the 2005 Legislature.

Perkins and Ways and Means Vice Chairwoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, have made all-day kindergarten their top priority for this session saying study after study has shown that it is a key to significant improvements in student achievement in public schools.

Raggio says all-day kindergarten is one option under Gov. Kenny Guinn’s trust fund for educational excellence and that the state shouldn’t tell all districts what is the best program for their situation. He said other programs might serve some of those districts better.

In addition, he said mandating statewide all-day kindergarten would cost more than $72 million over the coming two years and up to double that in future budget cycles.

The construction dispute is between Raggio’s desire to build a science and math complex at UNR and Ways and Means Chair Morse Arberry’s desire to start development of an Academic Medical Campus in downtown Las Vegas. The former costs more than $30 million. Arberry’s proposal requires $25 million.

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

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