Gov.-elect selects core staff members |

Gov.-elect selects core staff members

Associated Press

Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval reappointed Andrew Clinger as budget director Wednesday and announced two other core personnel who will help launch and guide his administration over the next four years.

Heidi Gansert, a former assemblywoman, is director of Sandoval’s transition team and will serve as chief of staff when he takes office. Dale Erquiaga, former deputy secretary of state who most recently served as government affairs director for the Clark County School District, will be a senior adviser in charge of communications and education policy.

Clinger, who has worked in state government since 1997, was named budget director by former Gov. Kenny Guinn in 2005 and retained his position under outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons.

“Andrew’s integral knowledge of the state budget will be invaluable as we look to balance the budget without raising taxes,” Sandoval said in a statement.

The former federal judge, will take the oath of office Jan. 3. He left his lifetime judicial appointment in September 2009 to challenge Gibbons in the GOP primary, and defeated Democrat Rory Reid in this month’s general election.

Sandoval has said he will oppose any tax increases, including extending some approved by lawmakers last year that are set to expire in June.

Sandoval, throughout his campaign or in the days following the election, has not detailed how he would close a budget gap that some have estimated at $3 billion – roughly half the existing $6.4 billion spending plan. The governor-elect has said the two-year budget should be reset to 2007 revenue levels of roughly $5.2 billion.

Erquiaga, meeting with reporters Wednesday, said all options for balancing the budget are being considered, but details won’t be released until Jan. 24 when Sandoval gives his state of the state address.

The administration “won’t be thinking out loud” as it narrows its budget plans, he said.

“There’s no reason to scare the state work force,” Erquiaga said, or people who rely on state services that may be reduced.

Erquiaga, however, acknowledged that taking money from local governments or relegating responsibility to them for some services now provided by the state could be in the mix. But Sandoval plans to meet with local entity representatives before any proposals are made, he said.

The Nevada Economic Forum, a five-member panel of business leaders, meets Dec. 1 to make revenue projections that must be used by the governor and 2011 Legislature to build a budget for the biennium that begins July 1.