Committee to finalize cuts today

The Interim Finance Committee votes today on a 35-page laundry list of budget cuts for this fiscal year, implementing the mandates of the June 27 special legislative session.

Lawmakers in the special session voted on overall reduction targets but left the details to be worked out by the agencies, legislative and executive fiscal staffs.

Most of the cuts on the list are the result of holding new or existing positions throughout the executive branch vacant " or eliminating them altogether. While the biggest victim is the Department of Health and Human Services, every state agency is losing positions, from forest rangers to public safety investigators, homeland security to cultural affairs and numerous lower level secretarial and similar positions.

Many more cuts, especially within Health and Human Services, will result in reduced services to many people, including the disabled, the poor and the mentally ill. In addition, nearly all of the rate increases granted providers of medical, social and other services by the 2007 Legislature will also be taken back.

The total anticipated cuts come to $107.4 million. But IFC won't be considering everything on the list today. Education, the Supreme Court, legislative branch and constitutional officers except for the governor and lieutenant governor will be considered at a later date.

When those agencies are removed, the committee's list for today totals about $52.2 million in cuts, the largest of which is in Health and Human Services at $31.5 million. The damage there must be almost doubled to count the loss in federal matching funds for the largest Health and Human Services programs, including Medicaid and Welfare.

The next biggest hit is to corrections: $9.4 million this fiscal year. The big items there are $3.1 million by delaying Phase 5 at High Desert State Prison and $1.26 million by closing Silver Springs Conservation Camp east of Carson City.

Although numerous positions will remain vacant at least until the start of the new biennium, the list of reductions doesn't include layoffs at this point.

In addition to the agency cuts, the plan includes a Public Employee Benefits Program premium holiday for one month, which will save $24.4 million in general fund money and a total of $37.1 million when highway fund and other revenue sources are added in.

Today's cuts are part of the $275 million in reductions approved by the June 27 special session of the Legislature. Altogether, they bring the total budget reduction this budget cycle to just under $1.2 billion.

But these reductions are for this budget cycle and have no connection with the 14 percent reductions from current budgets the governor is demanding for the 2010-2011 biennial budget cycle.

The finance committee's video-conferenced meeting between the Legislative Building here and the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas begins at 10 a.m. It will also be broadcast on the Internet.

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

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment