State agencies are asking for a total of $8.2 billion in General Fund revenue to support their budgets for the coming two-year budget cycle.
That’s up a bit from the just under $8 billion they asked for two years ago even though it includes the 5 percent potential budget cuts the governor ordered agencies to include. Without those reductions, the total sought would be $8.5 billion.
Mike Willden, chief of staff to Gov. Brian Sandoval, emphasized agency requests represent what agencies think they need for the coming cycle and are always significantly higher than what the state has to spend and what the governor finally recommends to the Legislature in January.
The actual amount the state can spend in General Fund money will be set by the Economic Forum at their meeting in December.
Those agency requests include significant increases in areas where the state really has limited control such as inflation and caseload growth. Willden said one of the largest increases is because of the higher than expected number of K-12 students, which will require an about $48 million more in Fiscal 2018 and another $91 million in 2019. While those are large numbers, the overall K-12 budget this budget system is more than $3.5 billion.
“We’re getting more kids in school,” Willden said.
Willden said caseload growth in schools and human services programs including Medicaid and Check-Up will require adding $181 million in 2018 and $265 million in 2019 to the current funding. Medicaid, he said, now has some 650,000 participants and will need $60 million more in state funding next fiscal year and $88 million more the following fiscal year.
Since implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid has become the largest state budget. This biennium it totals $6.4 billion in state but primarily federal dollars.
The number of students in the university system is also growing and will require about $30 million more each year of the coming budget cycle. NSHE’s current two-year budget is nearly $1.7 billion when state, federal and student fee money is added up.
In addition, he said agencies have asked for about $58 million in technology improvements this cycle.
“We have a lot of systems needing to be refreshed or upgraded,” he said.
But Willden made it clear the state isn’t in dire straights and won’t be running up against a deficit. He said the projected ending fund balance at the end of this fiscal year is about $400 million so there’s enough money to cover government’s bills.
He said that’s enough that, for the first time in several years, the state will be contributing $67 million to the Rainy Day Fund — the state’s emergency fund.