Guinn, Gibbons meet to talk budget and transition | NevadaAppeal.com

Guinn, Gibbons meet to talk budget and transition

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Gov. Kenny Guinn, left, and Gov.-elect Jim Gibbons answer media questions Monday at the Capitol following a meeting to discuss the state budget and the transition.

After an hourlong session with his predecessor Monday, Gov.-elect Jim Gibbons said his biggest challenge in the coming weeks is “getting your arms around the budget and the budget process.”

He and outgoing Gov. Kenny Guinn met Monday afternoon in the governor’s office with their chiefs of staff to smooth the transition process.

The goal, Gibbons said, “is fully understanding it because we will end up defending the budget before the Legislature.”

He said he doesn’t plan to rewrite the budget Guinn and his staff have been developing since last summer.

“I don’t think you’re going to see big changes made at this point in time,” Gibbons said.

He said among the decisions he must make is where to reduce the proposed budget by the more than $82 million the Economic Forum cut from projected revenues at its Nov. 30 meeting.

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“I’m certainly not going to increase taxes,” he said adding that he has told everyone in the agencies they’re going to have to be “creative.”

Asked if the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s proposal to raise road building funds by changing depreciation schedules for car registration fees fits his definition of creative, Gibbons said: “It’s not off the table.”

Changing the depreciation schedule would cost car owners only a few dollars extra each year but would generate about $96 million in 2008 and more in future years for highway construction, according to the task force.

Gibbons also said he doesn’t see a large number of personnel changes in the executive branch at this point.

“We’re going to carry a lot of people forward who we think have been doing a good job,” he said.

But not all: “There will be some we do want to change.”

For his part, Guinn said he has tried not to “button it up” completely but instead leave Gibbons some flexibility in finalizing the state’s spending plan for the next two years.

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