Board of Examiners approves state pay raises |

Board of Examiners approves state pay raises

Money for state workers’ 4 percent July 1 pay raise was released by the Board of Examiners on Tuesday.

Director of Administration Perry Comeaux told the board it will take a total of $19,770,326 from the general fund and another $1,740,000 from the highway fund to cover the cost.

“That’s about $2 million more than we thought it would be,” he said. “But when we close the books, we may get some of it back.”

Gov. Kenny Guinn promised state workers that, even though the state is suffering a revenue shortfall that could reach $250 million for the biennium, he would not take back the raises he and the 2001 Legislature approved.

The board also approved spending $388,108 to help the University Medical School cover the rising cost of providing its physicians and students with medical malpractice coverage.

University officials said that will cover 46 percent of the estimated $843,000 increase in the total cost of the insurance. University officials said that is actually less than $10,000 apiece to cover the 400 doctors — 150 of them students serving their residency. The rest is covered by the two hospitals and a variety of private insurance plans maintained by the physicians.

They said the reason it costs the medical school so much less than private physicians pay — which can exceed $100,000 a year — is that the state’s liability is capped at $50,000 per incident.

The board approved $5.2 million under the Nevada Education Reform Act for 75 schools designated as “needing improvement” and another $927,408 to pay for remedial education and tutoring for high school students who need help passing proficiency exams.

But they voted to hold off a decision on releasing $1.4 million to eight school districts to support programs they might otherwise have to eliminate next year. Comeaux’s recommendation was to hold the money back to help balance the budget, but Secretary of State Dean Heller said he was concerned about some of what may be eliminated — such as the purchase of new math texts in Clark County.

“You’re talking some pretty serious consequences,” he said. “I don’t think I’m prepared to vote against these issues at this time.”

But Guinn pointed out that the state has already released some $3.2 million to save some of those programs. He also pointed out that Clark, for example, voted to continue funding for middle school athletics while cutting book purchases. He said he would give Heller some time to look into the issue and put it on the next board agenda in July.

The board approved a total of 236 contracts totaling $190 million needed as state agencies begin the new fiscal year July 1. Of that total, $108 million is in consulting and service contracts through the Department of Information Technology. Guinn pointed out that normally, only a small percentage of those contract funds are actually spent.

The Department of Human Resources had $36.5 million worth of contracts approved for welfare, health providers and programs such as Community Connections.

The largest single contract on the list was between the Public Employee Benefits Program and Benefit Planners Ltd. to provide plan services — a total of $19 million.

The board also agreed to let White Pine School District use $900,000 planned for an elementary school in Pleasant Valley be moved to life and safety upgrades at White Pine Middle School. The Pleasant Valley project was cancelled when a group of related families moved out of the area, taking 50 of the 57 children who would have attended the school with them.