Sandoval looks at 10 percent cuts at state agencies |

Sandoval looks at 10 percent cuts at state agencies

RENO – Governor-elect Brian Sandoval on Monday confirmed he is looking at agency cuts in the range of 10 percent, but that it won’t be an across-the-board reduction.

“I’m going through them. These are tough decisions that have to be made. I’m looking at each budget individually,” he said.

With just two days until the Economic Forum officially sets the revenue projections he must use to build the next budget, Sandoval said he is encouraged by the latest numbers and doesn’t believe the shortfall from current spending will be $3 billion for the coming two-year budget cycle.

“The numbers are actually better than they were the last time the forum met,” he said after meeting with his newest panel of advisers at the Jones Vargas law firm in Reno. “I think it’s going to be significantly lower, about $1 billion.”

The last projections were issued in January before the 26th special session of the Legislature. The Economic Forum meets Wednesday to make its new projections..

Sandoval emphasized that whatever the gap is, it won’t be filled by raising taxes. Nor, he said, does he intend to remove the sunsets on tax hikes approved by the 2009 Legislature and the 26th special session.

“The taxes that are set to sunset, we will not replace them,” he said.

He said economic development will be the top priority of his administration and he plans to make major changes in how the state attracts business.

He announced formation of a group of 29 longtime business leaders and public officials to help him with that task.

“It’s going to be a working transition team that provides me with input,” he said.

He tabbed veteran Las Vegas businessman and chamber trustee Steve Hill as his point man on economic development, “in charge of bringing jobs to Nevada.”

Hill said the governor and his advisers are planning big changes.

“He wants to make big strides, bold strides in changing the economy of Nevada,” said Hill.

“This is my No. 1 priority, to bring economic development to the state,” said Sandoval.

He said one major piece of that project will be to “align” the state’s education system from K-12 through the universities with business so that Nevada schools are providing workers who have the skills business needs to succeed.

Hill said that means looking for good ideas in other states as well as “capitalizing on our strengths.” He was joined by Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki who said that also means providing business with a stable system of laws and taxes.

“They want predictability,” said Krolicki.

In addition to Hill and Krolicki, the advisory team includes business officials such as NV Energy CEO Michael Yakira, former Resort Association President Bill Bible, Former UNR President Joe Crowley, Southern Nevada Water Authority manager Pat Mulroy, several present and former gaming officials, school officials and State Senator Dean Rhoads of Tuscarora.

They are expected to meet at least three times to work out recommendations for Sandoval on a variety of subjects.