Despite hard times, state agencies seeking more money | NevadaAppeal.com
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Despite hard times, state agencies seeking more money

The state may be facing a revenue crisis but that didn’t stop agencies from submitting requests for budget enhancements totaling nearly $170 million over the next two years.

Director of Administration Andrew Clinger said Monday it’s unlikely very many of the requests will be added to the governor’s proposed budget.

“We just don’t have the revenues for adding new things this time or even for restoring things that were cut,” he said.

Fully half the total requested came from the Department of Education, which essentially asked the governor to restore all the items cut from this year’s budget including $27 million for full-day kindergarten and the $18 million over the biennium for the empowerment program. Education’s list of enhancements totals $45.8 million the first year and $47.9 million the second.

One of the requests, by the Department of Information Technology, is to implement a special project for Gov. Jim Gibbons. DOIT needs $294,000 to implement the Nevada Open Government Initiative ” an Internet Web site providing the public with detailed budget and other data about state government.

The Department of Taxation is asking nearly $12 million in enhancements over the biennium. Most of those are positions such as auditors who could actually generate additional revenue for the state.

Clinger said those types of enhancements have the best chance of winning support.

“If something’s going to create revenue, even if in the short term it costs us a little money, we’d put those in there,” he said.

Health and Human Services is seeking a total of $14.2 million over the biennium. Nearly $10 million of the total is to set up a system allowing the severely mentally ill to bypass southern Nevada emergency rooms and go straight to the Rawson-Neal hospital for both a medical screening and psychiatric evaluation.

HHS Director Mike Willden also proposes giving up some funding as part of his package. He would save the state about $1.1 million a year by eliminating 11 of 12 psychologist positions in the Rural Clinics program, replacing them with Mental Health technicians.

Clinger said that is one of several “good, creative proposals” for saving the state money that agencies have come up with.

The Department of Corrections wants a total of $11.7 million in enhancements spread throughout the different institutions and the Gaming Control Board wants $5.7 million next year, more than $4.3 million of it for a new database system.

Parole and Probation wants 28 officer positions that were eliminated because of the budget cuts earlier this year restored. That will cost $5.1 million over the biennium but P&P argues it’s necessary to handle the growing number of parolees and probationers.

Most of the rest of Public Safety’s requested enhancements are for replacement vehicles and motorcycles for the highway patrol ” a total of $7.3 million over the biennium. However, none of that money is from the general fund. NHP is funded by highway fund money.

General fund accounts for $83.8 million of the $92.7 million requested for FY 2010 and $66.4 million of the $76.7 million sought for 2011.

None of the requests have been approved. They are all listed as “items for special consideration.”

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