In a 10-minute emergency meeting Thursday, the Board of Examiners drained the $401 million Rainy Day Fund.
They dumped the cash into the General Fund where it can be
used to offset the growing shortfall in revenues created by the economic
The projected shortfall because of the coronavirus pandemic
is somewhere between $741 million and $911 million for this fiscal year with
one of the biggest hits being gaming taxes. Because all casinos and other
gaming establishments were shuttered in March, the gaming percentage fee
collections, Nevada’s second largest revenue stream, have been zero since then.
One of the reasons for transferring the entire Rainy Day Fund all at once is the projection that the state’s Ending Fund Balance will drop to just $120 million because of the lack of revenue.
But the state is also taking huge hits in sales and use
taxes, the state’s largest revenue generator, not only from the closure of
gaming resorts but all of the small and non-essential businesses forced to
close in the pandemic.
In addition, the board consisting of the governor, secretary
of state and attorney general approved a one-year lease with John Uhart
Commercial Real Estate Services for two suites in an office building to house
the expanding staff at the Employment Security Division. The added staffers are
needed to handle the crush of unemployment benefits claims.
The cost of the lease is $97,944 for the year but officials
said that will be reimbursed by CARES Act federal funding.
Later Thursday, the head of the Department of Employment,
Training and Rehabilitation announced that, beginning Saturday, they will be
able to begin processing unemployment claims by independent contractors, 1099
contract workers, gig workers and others who don’t normally qualify for
Payments will be backdated to when those individuals first
qualified for benefits and the checks should start coming May 23.
DETR Director Heather Korbulic said the phone number and
website for those claimants won’t go live until Saturday, May 16.
When it goes live, the website will be at detr.nv.gov/pua.
The phone number will go live at 8 a.m. Saturday: 800-603-9681.