No Nevada inaugural ball planned

Several thousand Nevadans showed up for two black-tie-optional inaugural balls after Gov. Kenny Guinn won his first term in 1998. But the re-elected Republican is keeping the tux in the closet this time.

Instead of repeating the glitzy balls held in Las Vegas and Reno four years ago, Guinn just plans to be sworn in on the steps of the Nevada Capitol in early January. A private luncheon will be held afterward.

Others at the swearing-in ceremony will include Lorraine Hunt as lieutenant governor; Brian Sandoval as attorney general; Dean Heller as secretary of state; Kathy Augustine as controller; and Brian Krolicki as treasurer.

Sandoval is the only newcomer. The other officials were re-elected.

"The sense I get is that the governor has had an inaugural ball and in light of the economy he thinks it's not appropriate to have one this year," Guinn spokesman Greg Bortolin said Wednesday.

"Because of the budget situation, one of the things we're trying to do is to hold down expenses," Bortolin added.

"Basically, it's just going to be real low-key. Private funds are being raised for any expenses that might be incurred."

Nevada's Republican governor isn't alone in scaling back inaugural celebrations. Governors in several other states, among them California, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, also are avoiding gala blowouts.

While Guinn can celebrate a second term, there's little to cheer about when it comes to the state's tourism dependent economy. A slowdown aggravated by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks caused state revenues to slump so badly that Nevada faces a $350 million-plus budget shortage this fiscal year.

Guinn is expected to propose major tax increases in his mid-January "State of the State" speech to help cover the deficit and raise at least $800 million more to pay for government operations in the coming two fiscal years.

The simple swearing-in ceremony will be a marked difference from January 1999 when inaugural galas were attended by some 5,000 people in Las Vegas and about 2,800 people in Reno.

The events, open to the public at $40 per person, included a formal procession led by Guinn and his wife, Dema, with members of the Nevada Legislature, state Supreme Court justices and other elected officials following them.

Entertainment was provided by The McGuire Sisters, television star John Daly, country star Lee Greenwood, a swing band and a 22-piece orchestra.

Tables were loaded with drinks and thousands of pounds of hors d'oeuvres and desserts. Tables also featured ice sculptures -- including elephants for Guinn and other Republicans and donkeys for the Democrats.


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