Board drains Nevada’s Rainy Day Fund to deal with pandemic financial crisis | NevadaAppeal.com
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Board drains Nevada’s Rainy Day Fund to deal with pandemic financial crisis

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 shutdown.

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 unemployment benefits.

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.