The Economic Forum on Tuesday added more than $900 million to projected General Fund revenues this budget cycle.
The five-member panel of finance and business experts is charged with projecting how much revenue Nevada will get from more than 70 taxes and other revenues that feed the General Fund. Their projections must be used by the governor and Legislature to build the state budget.
That is a much rosier picture than the forum painted in the December meeting where they initially laid out what the state could spend.
Altogether, the General Fund is projected to finish this fiscal year, ending June 30 at $4.33 billion. That is $323.5 million more than projected in December.
For the coming biennium, total General Fund is now projected at $9.09 billion — not too far behind the $9.33 billion total used to build the 2019-2020 budget.
Altogether, that is $909.7 million more than the projections for 2021, 2022 and 2023 made in December.
When all three fiscal years are added up, that’s a total of $13.4 billion.
Legislative Economist Russell Guindon told the four members present Tuesday that with the additional stimulus money flowing from the federal government and greatly increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines, Nevada has, “recovered more rapidly than we anticipated.”
He pointed to the March gaming win that totaled more than $1 billion, up 72 percent from March 2020 when the pandemic hit and set all-time win records in five reporting areas, including Carson City.
Guindon was joined by Gaming Control Analyst Mike Lawton who said he has been getting reports that April is also ahead of pre-pandemic win numbers.
“I’m hearing reports that the demographic everybody wants in their casino — 55 and older — is starting to trickle in,” he said.
Forum member Frank Streshley, who was Lawton’s boss before retiring from state government, said he thinks Las Vegas is poised to make a strong recovery and that, in 2022, “I think there’s going to be big pent up demand to come to Las Vegas.”
Compared to December, the General Fund revenues from this fiscal year were increased by $323.5 million.
Throughout the pandemic, sales and use tax revenues were hard hit by the closure of southern and Washoe County casinos, restaurants and bars. But millions in stimulus money gave strong support to consumer buying including many people taking the opportunity to upgrade their homes and buy other products including new vehicles.
The majority comes from the seven so-called major revenue streams — sales taxes, gaming taxes, Live Entertainment, Insurance Premium, Modified Business, Real Estate Transfer taxes and the Commerce Tax. Together, they account for $11 billion of the total.
Of the total, $3.9 billion comes from the sales tax and $2.1 billion from the gaming percentage fee.
The rest comes from the roughly 70 “minor” revenue streams that total $2.5 billion.