Nevada lawmakers OK budget cuts, construction and maintenance reductions

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The legislative Interim Finance Committee on Thursday gave its approval to more than $76 million in budget cuts.

Finance Director Susan Brown told lawmakers that includes $65.4 million in General Fund budget cuts and the elimination of $21.57 million in one-time appropriations.

Most of the budget reductions for the remainder of fiscal 2020 are in vacancy savings by not filling empty positions and reductions or elimination of such things as travel and training.

“A number of these are going to hurt,” said IFC Chairman Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas.

Lawmakers also canceled a number of Capital Improvement Projects including the Las Vegas Medical School building. That alone will revert $25 million to the state treasury. In addition, they reduced or eliminated a half-dozen maintenance and infrastructure upgrades totaling more than $305,000.

The meeting was preceded by public comment from a dozen state workers who protested the idea of eliminating their scheduled 3 percent raise and imposing a day-a-month unpaid furlough on them. They universally complained that it’s unfair to balance a budget shortfall on the backs of state workers. Several veteran state workers said they went through this after the recession hit in 2007 and still haven’t completely recovered.

They also complained that, so far, they have not had “a seat at the table” in discussing how to manage the revenue shortfall.

There were also advocates for those with mental issues who urged lawmakers not to cut back on those services to vulnerable patients.

The budget cuts were updated as recently as Thursday by Brown but still mirror closely the reductions Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered in early April. The department that will take the biggest hit is Health and Human Services. Health and Human Services is the largest consumer of state funding at $2.83 billion over the two-year budget cycle plus huge amounts of federal funding for programs including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. If the budget cuts are 4 percent and 6 percent, HHS would lose more than $145 million.

K-12 Education would take the second largest reduction with the Distributive School Account that provides per-pupil funding reduced by nearly $82 million. It would require action in a special legislative session to reduce the per-pupil funding.

The Nevada System of Higher Education would be cut over $69 million.

Some budgets, however can’t legally be reduced. The best example is the Supreme Court budget that funds the salaries of district judges. Since they are elected officials, their pay can’t be raised or lowered during their current term.


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