State agencies ask for $8.3B

State agencies have requested a total of $8.3 billion in funding for the coming biennium - a nearly $2 billion increase over the general fund budget approved by the 2009 Legislature.

The biggest increases in the agency requests released Friday come from the two largest consumers of general fund money: education and human services.

Public schools requested a 32-percent increase in funding for the coming biennium, which would raise their share of the total general fund from $2.5 billion this budget cycle to $3.3 billion. The university system is seeking a 25 percent increase from $954 million to $1.19 billion.

Health and Human Services is requesting a 32.75 percent increase from $1.8 billion to $2.4 billion. The primary increase in cost comes from the Medicaid program, which loses $334.7 million in stimulus funding and projects a $199 million increase in caseload costs.

The federal stimulus legislation also prohibits the state from changing Medicaid eligibility requirements. Director of Administration Andrew Clinger said that means Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden had to include funding in his budget to replace those losses.

The legislatively approved budget for the current biennium is $6.42 billion.

Education consumes 56 percent of that total, or just under $3.6 billion this cycle. That would rise to nearly $4.7 billion if their budget request is granted.

Human Services consumes more than 28 percent: $1.8 billion.

The next largest portion of the budget is public safety but most of those programs are supported by the highway fund and Department of Motor Vehicles fee collections. The biggest general fund budget in public safety is the Department of Corrections, which is seeking a nearly 25 percent increase in total funding to $552.5 million.

Clinger said those budget requests are before the 10 percent reductions mandated by the governor's office. That mandate trims the amount by more than $819 million, bringing the total increase sought by agencies to $1.1 billion over the current legislatively approved budget.

He said the agency requests are also increased by the fact they must be based on current law. That means they assume the expiration of state employee furloughs and restoration of longevity pay, step increases and merit pay.

If lawmakers eliminate the sunsets and continue those cuts, the $1.1 billion overall increase would be cut by another $480 million..

Altogether, $591.6 million in stimulus funding will disappear from Nevada's current budget. The current budget also includes more than $551 million in funding that will go away unless lawmakers act. On that list is the money lawmakers stripped from local governments in the 2009 and 26th special legislative session and the temporary increase in local sales taxes to schools that will sunset June 30.

In addition, that amount includes the projected 19 percent decrease in property tax revenue that, by statute, the state must make up in the budgets of Nevada's 17 school districts.

The figures released Friday deal only with the general fund portion of the budget and don't include federal money, highway funds and other revenues supporting state government programs. Altogether, the state budget for the current biennium is more than $16 billion.


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