Nevada's revenue gap climbs to $400 million

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The governor's office told lawmakers Wednesday they are expecting the Economic Forum to leave them with a revenue shortfall of up to $400 million for the biennium.

The forum meets Jan. 22 to review state revenues, which have been lagging behind projections since the Legislature adjourned in June. The forum, composed of financial professionals from private industry, has been asked to re-project major state revenues so that Gov. Jim Gibbons and lawmakers know how much they must revise the current budget.

Deputy Chief of Staff Stacy Woodbury told the legislative committee on education that the budget office found revenues some $72 million short after just the first quarter of this fiscal year.

When asked how much will have to be cut from public school budgets, Woodbury said that hasn't been determined. But across the board, she said, "the hole is probably going to be $350 to $400 million." And since K-12 and higher education make up 54 percent of the general fund budget, she said education can't be spared entirely.

Gibbons has proposed a number of legal changes to accompany the promised budget cuts including elimination of mandates implementing class size reduction and full-day kindergarten, among others.

Several lawmakers raised questions about the lack of detail in her presentation to the committee and what some saw as backtracking on the original proposal issued last week. That proposal indicated the state could save up to $127 million by eliminating the class size reduction requirements.

But Woodbury said Wednesday the reduction would be much smaller, that much of the money would be put back into per-pupil support with school districts given authority to decide how to spend it.

But she said school districts will definitely get less money overall.


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