Special session: Budget deal just $10-30 million apart
Gov. Jim Gibbons emerged from a closed door meeting with lawmakers today saying he and lawmakers are just $10 to $30 million apart.
He and legislative leaders of both parties spent two hours in Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley’s office working on the compromise plan to close the state’s $888 million budget hole.
Gibbons said he didn’t want to give out any specific details at this time. He said he would return to the Legislature at 3 p.m. Gibbons arrived at the Legislature about 11:30 a.m. – three hours later than expected when business was shut down Friday night.
Buckley said the goal is to put together a compromise between the different camps – Gibbons, the Senate, Assembly, Republicans and Democrats – then bring it to a floor vote.
The biggest issue is how much of a General Fund cut K-12 and Higher Education must take. Gibbons proposed 10 percent. Legislative Democrats called for 5 percent – which would cost $121.2 million. Assembly Republicans proposed 7.5 percent – cutting the cost in half to $60.5 million.
Another sticking point is the increased mining tax revenue Gibbons originally proposed by slashing the industry’s tax deductions in half. He now wants to pull that off the table because mining tax revenues are expected to come in $60 million above projections. He says the revenue from reducing deductions isn’t needed.
But Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said that money is normal revenue and should be used to reduce the shortfall from $888 million to about $830 million.
There are several proposals in the package likely to be applauded by Carson City’s state workers. First, lawmakers have no appetite to shut down the Nevada State Prison even though it would save a projected $12.4 million this budget cycle.
Second, Buckley said there is tentative agreement not to hit state workers with an added cut by raising their unpaid furlough hours form eight to 10 each month. That will cost an additional $6.8 million lawmakers must find.