300 state workers may face layoffs
Gov. Jim Gibbons said Tuesday that the state budget’s $880 million shortfall may require layoffs of up to 300 state workers.
The governor met with city and county officials Monday, school district officials Tuesday and will sit down with lawmakers today and Thursday to discuss how to handle the budget crisis.
Gibbons said the number of layoffs, which don’t include job losses at the universities or school districts, may be higher or lower depending on what other reductions he and legislators can agree on.
At Monday’s meeting with city and county officials, Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman both said they heard what they needed to hear – that the governor doesn’t intend to take any more money from local governments, which were hit for some $300 million by the 2009 Legislature.
“We heard what we were hoping for, that the state is going to leave us alone,” said Goodman. “We said we want the cities to work out their problems.”
Clark County schools superintendent Walt Rulffes said Tuesday that districts don’t want the state to make specific program cuts, rather leaving those decisions to each district.
He said, however, since salaries are set in contract negotiations, the districts don’t have authority to reduce teacher pay.
“The only authority the school board has is layoffs,” he said. “Just about any kind of cut means jobs.”
Gibbons said education will probably not be hit as hard as other areas of state government.
“Some will be impacted more. Some will be impacted less,” he said.
Burns said lawmakers will get two lists of ideas from the administration today.
“There’s the list of things we should do and the list of recommendations we’d rather not do,” he said.
The governor and legislative leadership will meet today and Thursday to start ironing out the details. They have promised to work together on a plan before calling a special session of the Legislature sometime later this month.
The governor will lay out the situation and at least some of his ideas on how to cope with it in next Monday’s television address to Nevadans.
“In the state of the state, you can expect a description of the dire situation the state is in,” he said. “You can also expect to see some of the solutions.”
Asked about added furloughs or pay cuts, Burns said: “Let’s be clear, this cannot be done without having an impact on salaries.”
Gibbons said Monday he doubted state workers would take much more than a 6 percent salary cut before walking away from the job. Those comments were made Monday after he exited a meeting with more than 30 city and county officials.
“Grab ahold of the notion of shrinking government because it’s our destiny,” Burns said.