Special session opens with call to balance budget | NevadaAppeal.com

Special session opens with call to balance budget

Geoff Dornan, Staff writer
Southern Nevada Assembly democrats, from left, Peggy Pierce, Kelvin Atkinson, Marilyn Kirkpatrick and William Horne talk Monday, Dec. 8, 2008 at the Legislature in Carson City, Nev. Lawmakers convened for a special session to address more budget cuts and tap other sources to cover this fiscal year's revenue shortfall of more than $340 million. (AP Photo/Cathleen Allison)
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The Assembly was called to order shortly after 9:30 a.m. 

Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, told the body times are dire in Nevada.

“Before this special session, we reduced the biennial budget by $1.1 billion,” she said. “And now we are facing an additional $340 million shortfall in this fiscal year.”

To do so by cutting agency spending, she said, would require cutting by 20 percent because there are only six months left in the fiscal year. But she said the state can’t safely do that.

“When we have declines in revenue, they hurt the three most important programs,” she said pointing out that more than 90 percent of state funds go to education, public safety and health and human services.

“We must balance the budget,” she said. “Unlike the federal government and California, gridlock is not an option.”

She described the bills being introduced today as an alternative to more deep cuts.

The formal organization of the lower house included swearing in nine new members as well as the returning veterans and the election of leadership. Buckley was again named Speaker and, unlike two years ago, Assemblyman Ty Cobb of Reno didn’t vote against her.

In the Senate, meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki took the podium as President of the Senate despite his indictment last week on criminal charges of misappropriating state funds.