Entrance to the State Legislature of Nevada in Carson City
Members of the Legislative
Interim Finance Committee were emphatic Wednesday that they receive detailed
reports on how the state spends the $836 million in federal money to cover
costs of battling the pandemic.
Chairman Maggie Carlton,
D-Las Vegas, said they will request a report for each IFC meeting on how the
money is being distributed, the amounts going to each recipient, how it’s being
spent and the outcomes. She said it’s important to track all expenditures and
report on them transparently.
Assembly Minority Leader
Robin Titus, R-Wellington, said she also wants to be able to track how local
governments, hospital districts and other non-state entities receiving funding
use that money.
Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno,
said he wants to make sure lawmakers receive detailed information when
available on the damage to Nevada’s various revenue streams.
He was told by LCB economist
Russell Guindon that, at this point, it’s just an educated guess for most of
the state’s revenue streams until they get into June and have more data from
the Department of Taxation.
But he said there is
certainty about one revenue stream — the gaming percentage fee that makes up Nevada’s
second largest source of revenue after sales taxes. With casinos closed, he
said that will be zero from March through the rest of this fiscal year.
“That’s a $160 million loss,”
He also said he and his staff
have no accurate way to calculate the damage to the state and school district
portions of the sales tax at this point.
Kieckhefer also asked state
Finance Director Susan Brown about the progress in ordering executive branch
agencies to make the 4 percent cuts mandated by Gov. Steve Sisolak.
She said the administration
is still working through the proposals provided by executive branch agencies.
“Time is of the essence if we
want to capture those reserve amounts,” Kieckhefer said.
Carlton said she understands
that time is slipping away with just six weeks left this fiscal year but that,
“It’s not just getting it done quickly; it’s getting it done right.”
Guindon told the committee
there may be a few positive signs in the revenue picture, including the
legislation that expanded sales tax collections to include online purchases
that he said were coming in well above projections. He said that may well be
because people working from home are making many more purchases online instead
of going to stores.
In addition, the committee
voted to approve receipt of $32.9 million through the CARES Act to ensure that
child care remains available to Nevada workers. A significant number of child
care businesses have shut down because with parents laid off or working from
home, they can take care of their children.
Elisa Cafferatta told them
the money is designed to restart those businesses once the pandemic is past and
the state has recovered.
“Child care is essential to
Nevada’s economy,” she said.