Lawmakers agree on $800 million construction plan | NevadaAppeal.com

Lawmakers agree on $800 million construction plan

Nevada lawmakers agreed Thursday on a construction and building maintenance plan totaling $803.7 million.

Two-thirds of that total is for the Department of Corrections and the university system. Corrections is in the budget for $328.1 million including $66.2 million to expand the women’s prison in North Las Vegas, $50 million to build Phase 5 of High Desert Prison in Southern Nevada, and $65.5 million to expand Southern Desert Correctional Center. The CIP budget also contains $29.2 million to buy and construct four modular housing units to relieve prison overcrowding by providing more than 900 additional beds.

The huge amount of prison construction is necessary because the number of inmates in the system has outstripped every projection made two years ago. Because of that growth, the prison system’s operating budget will grow nearly 30 percent this budget cycle to house and provide for more than 13,000 inmates.

Another $224.3 million is earmarked for projects within the Nevada System of Higher Education. Of that total, $65.9 million is for furnishings, fittings and equipment needed to open the new UNR library and Math/Science Center, the Science, Engineering and Technology building at UNLV, CCSN’s West Charleston classroom and Transportation Technology buildings and Nevada State College’s first building, the academic/student services center.

The two largest construction projects on the university system’s list are the Medical Education Learning Lab and the Advanced Clinical Training and Research Center, both part of the Health Sciences Center project. The medical lab is budgeted at $48 million. The clinical training and research center at Shadow Lane is budgeted at $59.7 million.

Executive Vice Chancellor Dan Klaich said after the meeting he is pleased with the result.

“In the context of available revenues, the system did extremely well,” he said. “In a perfect world we would really have liked to have gotten more money for planning projects. That could put us four years out for new buildings.”

He said the only planning money is for a nursing education building at the Nevada State College campus in Southern Nevada – about $4 million.

Construction projects in the Capital Improvement Projects budget total $683.6 million, all but $78.5 million of it either general fund or bond money. Maintenance projects add another $76.3 million and planning projects $23.7 million. The remaining $18 million is for statewide maintenance work, which includes disabled access projects, roofing for state buildings, asbestos abatement and fire/life safety repairs and modifications.

As soon as education budgets receive final approval and the governor’s signature, the CIP and other budgets can legally be processed.

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