CARES Act could cover large percent of Nevada special session costs |

CARES Act could cover large percent of Nevada special session costs

The Nevada Assembly Chambers before the start of the first day of the 31st Special Session of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City on Wednesday.
Pool/David Calvert/The Nevada Independent

Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Brenda Erdoes said Thursday it looks like the federal CARES Act will pay for a large percentage of the cost of the special legislative session.

Erdoes said that includes not only increased staff and operational costs but to cover costs of the Plexiglas shields and other modifications LCB has had to make in the building and the Senate and Assembly chambers.

If there was no pandemic, she said there would be no special session

“It’s all because of COVID,” she said.

Erdoes said at this point, she doesn’t know how much the session will cost. But, she said her staff is keeping a very close eye on the costs incurred so they can seek federal funding to pay the tab.

AB1, the legislation that will enact the day-per-month furlough for state workers and eliminate the pay increases for state workers during this fiscal year, was introduced Thursday in the Assembly.

Some employees who are designated critical hire positions are exempt from the furloughs. Those who are exempted will, however, be hit with a 4.6 percent pay cut.

But AB1 does increase the amount of annual leave state workers can carry over into a new calendar year. Existing law forfeits anything over 30 days leave on Jan. 1. The bill increases that cap to 40 days.

AB1 also eliminates one month of the state share of worker health insurance premiums to help cover the revenue shortfall. But it states that employees cannot be required to make up the loss of the state share.

In the Senate, SB3 implements the governor’s proposal to make mines pre-pay next year’s Net Proceeds of Mines tax when they pay this year’s tax. That generates $54.5 million.

The bill also increases the state share of the Governmental Services Tax from 25 percent to 50 percent. The Highway Fund gets the rest of the tax. The increase adds $23.7 million to the General Fund.

Finally, the bill establishes an amnesty program for people and businesses that owe the state taxes, fees and assessments, allowing them to pay off the debt without paying penalties or interest. A similar program was used in the recession and generates a significant amount of cash. Taxation estimates it could bring in $10 million this time around.

Lawmakers were told the cuts to Capital Improvement Projects will total $72.6 million. Those reductions were detailed in SB1.

The largest single chunk of that comes from canceling construction of the UNLV College of Engineering. The budget passed by the 2019 Legislature included $20 million in state General Fund cash to construct the building’s shell.

The plan also cuts the Health Sciences Building at College of Southern Nevada from the General Obligation Bonding program, saving $13.8 million.

Other large pieces of the CIP reductions include $8.9 million by eliminating deferred maintenance projects at the university system and the $8 million in advance planning for the Grant Sawyer building remodel in Las Vegas.

The plan eliminates a number of other maintenance and upgrade projects including replacement of the Capitol building’s HVAC for $2.1 million, $2.6 million from the statewide ADA program and $1.6 million from the statewide fire and life safety program as well as $2.2 million from the statewide paving program.