Agreement reached on compromise ‘pork’ list
The compromise list of one-shot projects lawmakers will fund this year was revealed in Senate Finance Committee on Thursday and the so-called “rich-guy” charities were still on it.
But they get far less of the state’s cash than they did under the governor’s original recommended budget.
The original included $40.9 million in funding in this fiscal year with another $13.6 million in fiscal 2008 and $5 million in 2009. That totals $59.5 million. The funding agreed to in the compromise list accepted by leadership in both houses totals just $23.9 million, freeing up $35.6 million for other purposes.
In finance, the only opposition came from Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, who said he wouldn’t support the proposal because it doesn’t include the money he sought as grants to the families of Nevada guardsmen serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That bill would have required more than $20 million but has not been processed by Finance Chairman Bill Raggio, R-Reno.
Under the revised list, the funding for nonprofits backed by several prominent Nevadans is cut in half or less this fiscal year and, except for funding to the Nevada Cancer Institute, eliminated in the second year. Those include Opportunity Village in Las Vegas – backed by longtime political consultant Sig Rogich – which was in the budget for $12 million, The Lou Ruvo Brain Institute – backed by the owner of Southern Wine and Spirits – which was in for $10 million, developer Harvey Whittemore’s institute formed to study chronic Fatigue Syndrome for $3.5 million.
Opportunity village was cut to $3 million – a quarter of what was sought. The Brain Institute to $3 million and Whittemore’s research project to $2 million.
The Nevada Cancer Institute funding was cut from $10 million the first year to $3 million and from $5 million each following year to $2.5 million.
The governor’s proposal to provide $6.5 million toward construction of a new White Pine County Courthouse was chopped back to just $1.5 million. The county asked for state help because the problem with its historic courthouse is caused by the number cases involving some of Nevada’s most dangerous inmates in the Ely maximum security state prison. County officials say without that prison, the existing courthouse would be adequate but that having large numbers of very dangerous inmates there is dangerous to both court personnel and witnesses.
The estimated cost of the new courthouse is about $13 million.
The $5 million the governor proposed for a Rural Government Assistance Fund was cut back to $2 million.
Lawmakers added $1 million next year for Lied Children’s Discovery Museum in Southern Nevada and cut the governor’s $2.1 million for Nevada Discovery Museum in the north to $1 million.
Other items on the list include $1 million for High Sierra Industries, $1 million for Washoe ARC, $250,000 for Clark County Public Education and $150,000 for Washoe County Public Education.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.