Sandoval: Budget numbers look good |

Sandoval: Budget numbers look good

the Associated Press

Nevada Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval said Tuesday that budget numbers “look very good” that he can balance Nevada’s checkbook for the upcoming two years without raising taxes.

He said he talked with current Budget Director Andrew Clinger about revenue projections, funding levels of three years ago, agency requests and consolidations.

“The numbers look very good that this can be done,” Sandoval said.

Two-thirds of the state’s general fund comes from sales and use taxes and taxes paid by casinos. The Great Recession took a heavy toll on that income stream, and economists have said recovery will be slow to materialize in Nevada, which leads the nation in unemployment, bankruptcies and foreclosures.

Sandoval, who takes office Jan. 3, has said he wants to “reset” the budget to 2007 revenues of about $5.2 billion, roughly $1.2 billion or 16 percent less than the current budget.

Some economists and state lawmakers have projected Nevada’s budget shortfall at $3 billion – about half the existing budget – and have said balancing the books will require a combination of cuts and taxes.

“I’ve said candidly there are going to be budget cuts,” Sandoval reiterated Tuesday.

Agencies under the direction of outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons already have submitted their funding requests to the administration, which Sandoval will use to build his own budget plan that he will present to state lawmakers in January. The 2011 Legislature convenes in February.

Clinger said earlier in the day that agency requests totaled $8.3 billion. The Department of Health and Human Services projects the Medicaid program alone will require $200 million more to cover increasing caseloads.

Sandoval stepped down from the federal bench in September 2009 to challenge Gibbons in the Republican primary, and went on to defeat Democrat Rory Reid in this month’s general election.

The day after the election he named Heidi Gansert, a former assemblywoman, and Dale Erquiaga, former deputy secretary of state, to his transition team.

Sandoval said he would announce other key personnel to his administration on Wednesday.