Lawmakers, Gibbons work together
Legislative leaders and the governor emerged from a 90-minute meeting Tuesday saying they intend to work together to resolve the state’s $900 million revenue shortfall.
“We didn’t put anything in concrete at this point in time,” said Gov. Jim Gibbons.
He said there will be another meeting Feb. 2 when staff should have a clearer idea of the gap between the current budget and revenue.
After that, Gibbons said, a date will be set for the special legislative session to implement cuts and other changes to balance the budget.
“What we’re facing is nothing short of sobering,” said Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas.
Buckley said if no other measures are taken, it would require a 22 percent cut in the general fund to balance the budget.
“It really is a dire situation,” she said.
Buckley said Gibbons has agreed to consult with lawmakers before setting a special session and laying out proposed solutions.
“We should work on them jointly, agree on them jointly and get them drafted,” she said.
In the meantime, Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said lawmakers will hold hearings Feb. 3-4 and Feb. 8-9 to discuss the situation with agencies and other parties, then a town hall event Feb. 13 to get public input on what to do.
“We need to talk about the ideas that are out there,” said Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno.
Gibbons indicated he wanted to call a special session as soon as all the data have been assembled and agreements reached.
The Economic Forum on Friday revised revenue projections used to build the current budget downward by $580.4 million. When the amount of sales tax the state is required to make up to school districts is added to that, the amount soars to more than $818 million. When other revenue gaps such as the roughly $60 million Medicaid shortfall are added in, the amount easily reaches $900 million.
That total will rise even more once the property tax shortfalls are added in.
In addition to Gibbons, Buckley, Smith and Gansert, Republican Assemblymen Pete Goicoechea of Eureka, James Settelmeyer of Gardnerville and Don Gustavson of Sparks and Sens. Bill Raggio and Randolph Townsend of Reno attended the session in the Capitol.
Attending by video-conference from Las Vegas were Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, Sens. Bob Coffin and Joyce Woodhouse and Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, all Democrats, and Republican Senator Barbara Cegavske.