Officials say deal close on current budget solutions
Gov. Jim Gibbons and legislative leaders emerged from a 90-minute meeting on the budget crisis Thursday saying they were very close to a package of solutions to balance this fiscal year’s budget.
But they declined to give details of what the elements of that deal are.
They need to cover another $286 million shortfall between now and June 30, which will bring the total budget reductions this biennium to $4.45 billion.
“We’re very close,” said Ways and Means Chairman Morse Arberry, D-Las Vegas.
“We do not want to specify details of what those solutions are until we have a better handle on how they can be accomplished,” said Gibbons.
Arberry said the group doesn’t want anyone breaking the deal before it is finalized.
Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and Gibbons said staff has been asked to work out details of different parts of the plan. He said the group will meet Tuesday, probably by video conference, to review what staff develops between now and then.
Gibbons said a special session of the Legislature hasn’t been discounted. He said it depends on whether, legally, it is needed to implement the package of solutions.
That package includes an idea offered by Treasurer Kate Marshall to give the state a $150 million line of credit from the Local Government Investment Pool managed by her office. She said it would help the state maintain cashflow through the end of the fiscal year.
In return, the state would agree to pay a quarter percent higher interest than the investement pool made this past year ” about 2.5 percent interest. Marshall said that’s half what the state would have to pay on the commercial market but better than the Local Government Investment Pool has been making, so both sides win.
Gibbons said that idea is being analyzed as one of the possibilities, but he said it would require legislation to enact.
He said some of the adjustments on the table “deal with taxation rather than raising taxes” ” a reference to suggestions the state eliminate some exemptions and commissions to increase revenues to the General Fund.
He did say the group was “trying desperately not to cut any more” and to avoid layoffs.
The effort at this point is to solve the budget shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30. When the 2009 Legislature convenes in February, they will have to take up the estimated $1 billion a year shortfall for the 2010-2011 biennium.
– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.