The legislative money committees Tuesday began the process of closing the budgets that fund the operation of state government.
First on the list were the administrative operations budgets within the Treasurer’s office that manage programs including the College Savings Trust, Millennium Scholarship program, Municipal Bond Bank Debt Service, Endowment Account, Higher Education Tuition Administration and Unclaimed Property.
Also closed were administrative budgets within the Controller’s Office and the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada.
“We’re on our way,” said Ways and Means Chair Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, pointing out that for the rest of the 2021 Legislature, they will be closing budgets practically daily.
There were some questions about the $50 million being added to the Millennium Scholarship program but Carlton pointed out that this budget item doesn’t deal with those appropriations, that it instead covers the cost of managing the program.
To keep the Millennium Scholarship program solvent, Gov. Steve Sisolak has recommended putting $44 million from the General Fund into the account and transferring $6 million from the Endowment Account to Millennium.
Lawmakers were told that, without those appropriations, the scholarship program would be insolvent by the end of FY 2022.
The only issue raised during Tuesday’s hearing was over the Controller’s recommendation to close the Las Vegas office and transfer its three employees to Carson City.
Senate Finance Chairman Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas and Carlton both objected saying the controller needs a Las Vegas presence despite the fact the controller’s office reports those three employees don’t deal with the public. The joint Finance and Ways and Means committees rejected the recommendation.
The governor’s recommended budget includes $8.68 billion over the 2021-23 biennium. But the General Fund is far from the total proposed two-year spending plan. Altogether, with federal and other funds, the governor’s recommended budget totals $31.39 billion.
Federal funding totals comes to more than $10.7 billion and the rest comes from revenue from the highway fund and a laundry list of fees and other cash.
The Legislature is just two days shy of the halfway point in the 2021 session. Its primary function for the remaining 62 days will be to build that state budget.