Error in education budget asks $68 million to fix.

Nevada education officials say they need another $68 million added to the proposed public education budget because of an error.

Director of Administration Perry Comeaux told the Senate Finance Committee the error was made by Washoe and Clark county school officials in calculating the actual expenditures from the distributive school account in fiscal 2004. The state uses that figure as a base to build the proposed budget for the coming two years. Comeaux said "other obligations" were left out of the calculation and they are requesting the state add $34 million a year to fix it.

But Comeaux told the Senate Finance Committee his staff hasn't finished reviewing those "other obligations."

"We have some concerns over the nature of those other obligations and are not convinced an adjustment needs to be made," he told lawmakers.

Senate Finance Chairman Bill Raggio, R-Reno, told Comeaux and his staff to work together to resolve the issue saying the committee needs to know as soon as possible how much the budget will have to be adjusted.

"That would be a significant amendment to the budget," he said.

The error was one of 50 budget adjustments Comeaux presented to Senate Finance Monday and the second in public school budgets. The governor's original education budget also failed to include any inflation for rising utility costs in Nevada schools. According to figures presented Monday, that will require lawmakers to add a total of $8.3 million to the budget over the next two years anticipating 4 percent more for electric and 8 percent a year for natural gas.

Similar errors were made in budgeting for utility costs in the Department of Transportation, Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation as well. Those will cost the state an additional $320,813 and $40,340 respectively.

The budget adjustments also include $33.5 million the governor and legislative leaders have proposed spending to bolster the Millennium Scholarships for the coming two years.

Fortunately, according to the worksheets presented to the committee, a large amount of the increased costs will be offset by a $28.7 million decrease in the state funding for the Public Employee Benefits Program. That decrease is part of the budget and plan adjustments proposed by PEBP Director Woody Thorne and the benefits board.

There are also several other budget reductions on the list. Altogether, the changes will cost $1,198,037 more from the general fund in 2006 and $1,678,206 in 2007.

Most of the other adjustments on the list are much smaller - all the way down to a $100 increase in the Narcotics Control budget and many of them are adjustments in such things as janitorial, security and other shared costs in a building.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or at 687-8750.


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