Budget negotiations continue through Sunday | NevadaAppeal.com

Budget negotiations continue through Sunday

Nevada Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, left, and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, arrive at a meeting with state business and community leaders Thursday morning, May 5, 2011, at Western Nevada College in Carson City, Nev. Democratic lawmakers continue to work on a tax plan despite Gov. Brian Sandoval's stance against any tax or fee increases. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)

Closed door talks to balance the budget continued through Sunday without a resolution.

“No white smoke tonight,” said Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, “We’ll meet again in the morning.”

There were several meetings in the governor’s office during the day, beginning with a 9 a.m. session with legislative Republicans and following with two different sessions with leadership from both parties.

“I don’t know that there’s any material difference,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, as he entered the Senate chambers shortly before 9 p.m.

Declining to give any details about what was happening inside the governor’s office, Dale Erquiaga, senior policy adviser to Gov. Brian Sandoval, said he was confident a deal would be reached.

“Nevadans have a great history of coming together when they have to and they have to this time,” he said.

Oceguera said, “both sides presented balanced budgets” during the evening meeting. But he and Horsford, both said the gap still is about $300 million between the cash they have and the budget as closed by the money committees. That is with the $650 million in revenue lifting the sunsets will generate.

The policy reforms sought by both sides remain pretty much the same as they have been for the session. The governor has said education reforms to make it easier to keep the best teachers and remove bad ones are his top priority.

Erquiaga said simply settling on the numbers and size of the gap created by Thursday’s Supreme Court opinion, “has taken much of the last couple of days.”

Assembly Republicans led by Pete Goicoechea, of Eureka, also want to talk about changes to local government collective bargaining and further changes to the public employee and benefit programs.

Democrats want, among other things, to put their proposed amendment lifting tax caps on mining, the transactions tax and their proposed margins tax on business profits on the ballot for people to judge.

The Assembly was to reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday. The time for the Senate to start had not been determined.

Both must push their way through several dozen bills Monday since it’s the deadline for non-exempt bills to win approval by the second house.