Four of five money bills now introduced at Legislature

Four of the five bills that create the state budget for the coming biennium have now been introduced in the 2021 Legislature.
The K-12 Education funding bill was put in Tuesday. The bills introduced Wednesday are the Authorizations Act, Capital Improvements projects bill and the so-called Pay Bill that sets the salaries of unclassified employees and cost of living adjustments for more than 23,000 state workers.
The Senate Finance Committee introduced the big bill — the Authorizations Act that lays out how all money other than the General Fund and Highway Fund must be spent. That measure contains $28.11 billion, the majority of it federal funding and the majority of that in the Medicaid budget.
It also includes the estimated $2.83 billion in stimulus funding from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act.
There is one piece of General Fund in the bill — the $63.9 million that funds the operations of the Gaming Control Board and Commission and $908.6 million in Highway Fund cash for the Department of Transportation.
Those two pots of money are authorized to give those agencies access to the Interim Finance Committee if necessary. If that money was appropriated, they would not have IFC access.
Also in the bill is the tuition and fee money collected from NSHE students. That makes up about a quarter of NSHE’s $2 billion biennial budget.
Altogether, the act contains $15.6 billion in federal funding.
The Capital Improvements bill contains $413.1 million in spending, mostly paid for by General Obligation Bonds. A significant amount of that total is for maintenance projects across the state. The UNLV Engineering School building is the major new project on the list. But the list also bonds for $12 million worth of work in the Tahoe Basin. The bill was introduced in the Assembly.
The Pay bill was also processed by the Ways and Means. There was discussion by some members who questioned the fairness of giving state workers represented by a union 3 percent raises but those not in collective bargaining just 1 percent in fiscal 2023. Lawmakers were told giving every worker the 3 percent would raise the cost of the measure from $17.1 million to about $32 million.
That leaves just the Appropriations Act to complete the budget package. That measure spells out how General Fund and the remaining Highway Fund money must be spent.

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