Nevada governor says call for cuts too late
Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn says Assemblyman Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, was too late with suggestions that the governor consider nearly $530 million in new cuts in drafting his state budget proposal.
“It’s way too late,” Guinn said in commenting on suggestions from Beers that focused on programs that have expanded since 1997.
“We’re working on the governor’s budget, not Beers’ list,” Guinn’s Chief of Staff Marybel Batjer said.
Monday was the deadline for getting the budget to the state printer’s office so that it’s ready when the governor gives his “State of the State” speech Monday.
“I wish I could have gotten it to him sooner,” said Beers, whose list was delivered Thursday night after most of Guinn’s decisions had been made.
Guinn says he’ll need more than $700 million in additional revenue during the coming two years just to maintain current programs. He has already sliced millions of dollars in state spending to trim the budget shortfall.
While his ideas aren’t being included in Guinn’s budget proposal, Beers said his list will be reviewed by the Ways and Means Committee during the 2003 session. He serves on that committee.
However, Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, said some of the programs on Beers’ list are off limits.
Perkins said he won’t support a plan that attempts to balance the budget “on the backs of education, children’s health care or senior programs.”
One suggestion by Beers was to review the $12.5 million approved by the 2001 Legislature to expand a low-cost insurance program for children of the working poor. Guinn said the state spent $13 million to collect up to $32 million from the federal government for this program.
The governor also defended a $12.5 million allocation to low-achieving schools. The money is intended to improve the skills of students in reading and writing who have fallen below the national standard.
A group called the Children’s Advocacy Alliance in Nevada terms some of Beers’ proposals “unconscionable.”
Alliance co-founder Toni Isola-Bayer said Nevada ranks 43rd in the nation in providing health care for children, and Nevada’s student dropout rates are the second worst in the nation.
“Yet the Assembly Republicans, in a misguided effort to relieve the state’s budget problems, are suggesting we can solve this problem by taking away critical funds from the one segment of our society that has no political power — innocent children,” Isola-Bayer said.