Budget plan laid out to legislature | NevadaAppeal.com

Budget plan laid out to legislature

Nevada Appeal Capitol Bureau

The budget bill lays out a total of $304.5 million in cuts to existing operations, $129.4 million in revenue redirections and transfers and $197.4 million in fund sweeps as well as $114.3 million in federal fund offsets.

The budget cuts, however, were reduced by $66.75 million in add-backs to eliminate cuts lawmakers felt were too deep, including what Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, referred to the “ugliest cuts” to human services programs for seniors, the mentally ill and poor children.

On that list is $12.8 million in costs for refusing to close down the old Nevada State Prison in Carson City. Also included is restoration of the Nevada Equal Rights commission, costing $660,890 this budget cycle. The governor had proposed eliminating that program.

Another $6.5 million was restored to the prison system as lawmakers rejected the elimination of pay differentials throughout the system of institutions.

A total of $16.1 million was restored to reduce the overall cut to K-12 education from 10 percent to 6.9 percent. Likewise, $20.7 million was restored to the Nevada System of Higher Education to reduce it’s overall General Fund reduction from 10 percent to 6.9 percent. The system, however, is still losing some $46.1 million in funding.

The plan anticipates nearly $6.2 million in savings from lower than anticipated caseloads in the Nevada Check Up program which provides health insurance for the children of the working poor. It contains a variety of salary adjustment, sweeping money from the salary adjustment account, eliminating vacant positions, reducing travel and training and estimating voluntary retirements from state service. Altogether, those reductions come to about $20 million. Another $14.76 million is targeted by using the Retired Employee Group Insurance trust to offset General Fund insurance premiums for those workers.

A number of fee increases are listed in the plan, raising a total of $27.58 million. The largest are $4.2 million by increasing the gaming control board hourly investigative charge for new gaming license applicants and $4.25 million by raising a number of different corporate fees in the Secretary of State’s office.

The Department of Cultural Affairs would see increases in admission fees at most of its museum and historical centers including the State Railroad Museum and Nevada State Museum in Carson City. Altogether, Cultural Affairs admission increases would raise $144,524, according to projections.

Increases in state park admissions would generate another $1 million and raising the state’s share of the gate and broadcast revenues at professional boxing events would bring in $1.25 million more.

The final item on the list of fee increases is Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley’s proposal to expand foreclosure mediation to include businesses. The current fee of $50 to file a default notice would be increased to $150 with the additional money transferred to the state – generating an estimated $13.8 million this budget cycle.

The plan includes a tax amnesty, offering to waive fines and interest for those who owe the state tax money who come forward and pay the base amount owed. The hope is it will generate $10 million. It anticipates another $10 million in revenue by urging the Nevada Department of Taxation to step up efforts to collect outstanding insurance premium taxes and it transfers $62 million in Clean Water Coalition funds which were freed up when a water infrastructure project in Clark County was canceled.

Another savings of $10.3 million is expected from rewriting a large number of state purchasing contracts. The Millennium Scholarship trust fund will lose $5 million, effectively draining it, and $3.6 million a year in unclaimed property fund cash slated for the scholarship program will, instead, go to the General Fund.

Lawmakers aren’t sparing themselves either. A total of $3.9 million will be taken from the budget of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

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