Gov. Gibbons concerned about legislative decisions | NevadaAppeal.com

Gov. Gibbons concerned about legislative decisions

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal From left, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, his Legislative Director Tray Abney and Assembly Minority Leader Garn Mabey, R-Las Vegas, speak Tuesday following an Assembly Republican caucus at the Legislature. Legislative leaders spent hours in closed-door meetings in an effort to reach an Assembly-Senate compromise on Nevada's K-12 education budget. Legislative Police Officer Chuck Pyle is at right.
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Gov. Jim Gibbons expressed frustration Tuesday that lawmakers aren’t involving him more as they make decisions.

“I see and hear about bills that are going to come out that there has been no discussion with us,” he said.

At the same time, he expressed doubt lawmakers will finish their job and the state budget by the June 4, 120-day deadline.

“I’m not convinced right now they are on a glide path that will get them out of there on time,” he said. “From what I hear, the Senate and Assembly are not very close.”

Gibbons said it may become “mechanically” impossible for their staff to complete the budget unless it is settled in just a few days.

He particularly objected to the Assembly’s refusal to move the Homeland Security Office back into the governor’s office instead of leaving it under the Department of Public Safety.

“I think the people of the state of Nevada deserve to have a Homeland Security department that is directly responsible to the governor without having to go through layers of bureaucracy.”

Along with that, he said he wants lawmakers to approve creation and funding of a “Fusion Center” to consolidate homeland security information and operations in Carson City.

He said the federal government requires the state to have a statewide “intelligence fusion hub that brings this all together.”

Lawmakers opposing the plan say it would be a waste since there are already centers in both Reno and Las Vegas and that the likely focus of any terrorist attack in Nevada would be one of those cities.

He said he should be in the loop on the road-construction funding plan Assembly Democrats are preparing. He said while he has publicly laid out his transportation plan, “they have not once spoken to me.”

“That kind of holding things close to the vest makes it harder,” Gibbons said.

Another example, he said, is the decision of both Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance to add in fee increases in the Health Division and other budgets which he removed in favor of using general fund money to cover increased costs.

“I submitted a balanced budget. Suddenly I see they have added these fees in when I had them paid for with existing funds.”

Gibbons said he can support some of the moves lawmakers are making including the prison good-time credit reforms which should help relieve prison crowding because it still leaves the final decision in each inmate’s case up to the parole board.

Gibbons said he is also having opposition from the Assembly to using existing education funding for empowerment schools.

“I think there is money there,” he said. “Who says it has to go to all-day kindergarten?”

Gibbons says he is willing to work with any and all legislators to try find compromises they can all support.

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