Titus questions lack of energy inflation in budget

Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus, D-Las Vegas, says the Gibbons administration has now confirmed that the proposed budget does not include money to cover inflation in energy costs.

She expressed concern that could cause serious budget problems for the state over the next two years since Senate fiscal analysts say electric prices will increase by more than 8 percent.

Agency officials have told lawmakers no inflation for utilities was included because the Governor's Office has been assured by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission prices won't increase in the next two years.

But rising gas and utility costs were a major factor in using up state contingency funds during the current budget cycle - most prominently the price of gas to the Nevada Highway Patrol and the cost of electric power used by Nevada's prison system. But numerous other agencies have suffered shortfalls in their utility budgets as well.

"Energy bills must be paid," she said. "If there are increases that are not included in the approved budget, programs will either have to be cut so the bills can be paid or the agency will come back to ask for more money. Neither option is acceptable."

Titus said she and several other legislators on the money committees have raised the issue, asking that all real costs be included in the state budget. She said the Guinn administration needs to address the issue.


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