Deeper budget cuts renew criticism | NevadaAppeal.com

Deeper budget cuts renew criticism

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley and University Chancellor Jim Rogers both urged the governor on Tuesday to consider alternatives to simply chopping back budgets.

“We need a balanced approach that takes into consideration the potential impact on human lives and the economy as a whole,” said Buckley, D-Las Vegas, in a statement on the budget crisis.

She referred to what Gibbons is doing as “cookie-cutter reductions.”

“The 5 percent was devastating. The 8 percent is absolutely destructive,” said Rogers, one of the most vocal critics of even the 5 percent cuts. “This goes right to the heart of whether we’re going to have an education system or not.”

Buckley said the governor could get much of the $281 million sales tax shortfall from the Rainy Day Fund and delaying construction projects scheduled for next year.

There is currently $267 million in the state’s Rainy Day Fund and another $36 million scheduled for deposit in that account next year.

Rogers too pointed to the Rainy Day Fund, “He’s got a savings account. He’s got the Rainy Day account and you’ve got to get into it.”

Rogers said there’s no point in waiting until the situation is much worse and programs including the university system are seriously damaged.

“At some point, the governor is going to have to decide whether he’s going to try solve this program or merely continue to deliver bad news to us,” he said.

Buckley said there are a number of programs the governor has exempted from cuts including K-12 education.

But she said other state services not on the list can’t withstand cuts.

“For example, the mentally ill population in our state is not going to magically go down,” she said. “If funding is cut to treatment programs, there will be even more mentally ill individuals in our already overcrowded emergency rooms and on our streets.”

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he doesn’t want to touch the Rainy Day Fund yet.

“Invading the Rainy Day Fund would be ill advised until we see what the effects of cuts are going to be,” he said.

He said it’s no different than the situation previous governors faced and, in fact, not as deep as some of governors including Bob Miller and Bob List had to cut.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.