Gov. Sandoval meets with GOP lawmakers
(AP) – Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval huddled with Republican lawmakers Tuesday and reiterated his opposition to extending temporary taxes as part of any budget deal with Democrats.
Assembly Republicans had hinted they would consider continuation of $620 million in temporary taxes in exchange for collective bargaining and other reforms. The temporary taxes were imposed in 2009 and are set to expire June 30.
But Senate Minority Leader Michael McGinness, R-Fallon, said Republicans in the Senate have made no such offer and remain solid behind the governor’s $6.1 billion budget recommendation.
Sandoval has said he will veto any bill that includes a tax or fee increase.
Speaking with reporters afterward, Sandoval described his chat with GOP legislators as a good meeting. Asked if there was a budget deal, he replied, “Not that I’m aware of.”
Lawmakers are trying to hammer out a spending deal by the end of this week to give legislative staff time to draft the budget bill and legislators time to act on it.
The 2011 session ends June 6. If no budget is approved by then, Sandoval has said he will send lawmakers home before calling a special session. Under the state constitution, only the governor can call a special session, and the governor sets the agenda for what legislators can consider.
Sandoval said he remained optimistic the Legislature will adjourn on time.
Democrats, after months of budget hearings, added back $968 million to the spending plan proposed by the governor. They proposed two tax bills – one imposing a tax on services and another to tax business revenues – to raise $1.2 billion to avoid deep cuts to education and social services.
The bills have no support from Republicans, and while Democrats hold slim majorities in the Senate and Assembly, the measures lack the two-thirds necessary to pass tax hikes or override a promised veto.
With time running out, the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees were to meet jointly Tuesday to begin cutting the budgets they passed just last week in an effort to appease Republicans and perhaps reach a point where compromise was possible.
By midday, the meeting had not yet begun and legislative leaders were cloistered in caucus meetings.