Gibbons, leadership begin working out compromise
An impromptu meeting Friday before noon between Gov. Jim Gibbons and Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, over his threatened veto of the Race to the Top bill led to a broader meeting that may lead to the end of the special session.
One by one, the other legislative leaders joined the session in Buckley’s office, expanding the debate to the overall differences between different plans to balance the budget.
“It was a very cordial meeting,” said Gibbons as he emerged from the session shortly before 1 p.m.
He said they would meet again about 3 p.m. and hopefully begin to find agreement on a budget package that handles the $888 million shortfall that all can support.
He said staff was working on exactly how much money is needed and what the different proposals in the mix would generate.
“We’re very close on how to find those revenues and fill those caps,” Gibbons said.
He said that at the 3 p.m. meeting, they would “find out what we can agree on.”
Asked about whether the gaming industry needs to be assessed more to balance the budget, he said, “We have yet to figure out whether gaming is needed in the picture.”
The biggest hold-up, Gibbons said, is “what is the exact reduction to K-12 or higher education.”
But he indicated that some fee increases may be in the final mix.
Senate Minority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, Minority Leader Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno and Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, all participated in the session.
Raggio said the meeting was cordial and that Gibbons and the others “indicated a willingness to try reach an accord as soon as possible.”
The size of the education cuts, he said, ‘have obviously been an issue.”
Horsford said the meeting was very encouraging.
“It’s the first sign we’ve seen that the governor is engaged,” he said.
The meeting came following morning reports that Gibbons was withdrawing his permission to look at increasing mining revenue to the state by reducing the industry’s deductions. That announcement followed reports that the Net Proceeds of Mines tax will come in some $60 million more than originally expected, more than offsetting the $50 million the governor’s plan would generate.
“It’s just not needed,” said spokesman Dan Burns.