Gibbons creates task force on economic crisis | NevadaAppeal.com
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Gibbons creates task force on economic crisis

Attempting to reassure Nevadans his administration is doing everything possible in the face of the economic crisis, Gov. Jim Gibbons on Friday announced the creation of a task force to coordinate efforts of local governments and businesses as they begin getting funding from the federal bailout.

Of the $700 billion in the legislation, he said about $72 million has been allocated to Nevada. He said leveraging that money for maximum effect is the challenge for the state, local governments and financial institutions in the state.

“That’s why it’s important to begin putting together a plan with the cities and counties,” he said in a press conference Friday afternoon.

The legislation provides block grants to local governments for such things as buying abandoned or foreclosed homes and demolishing blighted structures and redeveloping them.

He said the task force’s job is to get “the most out of every dollar.”

But he admitted no one is sure how much money will actually become available to Nevada and other states.

“Frankly, I don’t see a lot of that money coming down to the states,” he said.

He said the National Governor’s Association is estimating it will take 18 months to recover from the housing and economic crisis.

In part because predictions say things will get worse in the Silver State before they start to get better, he said the idea of a special session after the Nov. 4 election isn’t out of the question.

Asked what a special session would do, he said programs can only be reduced so much.

“After that, you either cut programs or cut jobs,” he said.

He said that could result in federal court lawsuits over the reductions. But he added “we’re always subject to that.”

He said Nevada is taking a multi-pronged approach to the problem, working with banks, working to get the most impact possible from the economic bailout funding, trying to bring more jobs to the state.

“Our solutions are bringing new businesses to the state. We need to keep attracting those businesses with low taxes, regulatory assistance,” he said.

Deputy Chief of Staff Mendy Elliott said falling housing prices have created a positive as well.

“One positive impact this is having is more homes are affordable for qualified buyers.”

She said renewal of the tax credit for development of solar energy was “very important for this state.”

Gibbons said the development of renewable energy – geothermal and wind as well as solar – would be a permanent source of jobs and economic stability.

“We’re well on our way to making Nevada one of the most attractive renewable energy states,” he said.

He has said since taking office Nevada should develop those renewable energy sources and become an energy exporter to places like California.

Gibbons named Wells Fargo Regional President Kirk Clausen to chair the task force, which will also include representatives from local governments receiving direct appropriations from the federal government and someone from the Nevada Association of Counties to represent local governments not getting direct funding.

He scheduled the first meeting of the task force for Oct. 22 in his office.

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