What about the state Rainy Day Fund?

One alternative to budget cuts, which hasn't yet been discussed much so far, is the state's Rainy Day Fund.

Draining that fund was an option then Gov. Kenny Guinn used, when finishing the 2002-03 budget cycle.

Lawmakers along with Guinn and his successor Gov. Jim Gibbons have since pumped money back into that fund just in case the economy went south again. As of Tuesday, it contained $267,632,516.

The only problem: Getting at that money.

Under state law, money from the Rainy Day Fund can only be used if the actual total revenue the state collects falls 5 percent or more short of the amount projected and budgeted for the biennium - or if the governor and Legislature declare that a fiscal emergency exists.

Budget Director Andrew Clinger pointed out there are still more than 19 months left in the biennium and the Legislature can't declare an emergency unless it is in session.

"That requires a special session and the governor is not interested in calling a special session," he said.

In that budget cycle, Guinn was facing a potential budget cut of nearly 8 percent. Instead, by using $135 million from the Rainy Day Fund, leaving just $1.3 million there in case a small emergency occurred, only 3 percent cuts were required from state agencies.

- Geoff Dornan, Appeal Capitol Bureau


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