State pay raises likely won’t be delayed | NevadaAppeal.com
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State pay raises likely won’t be delayed

One of the key reasons for calling the Legislature into session before the end of the fiscal year ” to take back the pay raises granted state workers and teachers ” is apparently off the table.

Assembly Democrats had said that idea had only minimal chances of winning any support in their house.

“I don’t believe there are the votes today to adjust the (cost-of-living adjustments),” said Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, proposed “deferring” the 4 percent cost of living adjustment, saying it would save the state $134 million next year.

But the idea wasn’t popular with other Senate Republicans in an election year when some of them are facing tough challenges.

And several in both parties have suggested Raggio made the proposal just to give him a campaign plank in his primary battle against former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle.

Beers, who initially supported the idea, said lawmakers will have to find another way.

“I would much rather adjust the COLAs than have to terminate people,” he said. “Now the approach is to find a way we don’t have to adjust the COLAs or terminate people.”

Beers said he believes the state can save a lot of money by changing how it operates. He said some of Nevada’s largest employers such as MGM-Mirage have “made smart changes.”

“I hope we will make smart changes and not just changes,” he said.

Meanwhile, administrative and legislative fiscal staffs met to resolve substantial differences between their revenue projections for the coming fiscal year. The total difference reportedly started off at more than $100 million and after a Wednesday afternoon meeting, the two sides were nearly that far apart. Neither Director of Administration Andrew Clinger nor Legislative Counsel Bureau fiscal staff would comment on the projections, both saying those numbers would be revealed to the Economic Forum on Friday.

Democrats continued their assault on the governor’s handling of the budget crisis, as Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera of Las Vegas made public a letter asking Gov. Jim Gibbons to issue a plan for the Legislature to follow when the special session convenes Monday.

“Recent articles in the newspapers report that you do not intend to propose any specific solution to the ongoing budget crisis,” he wrote. “Without a plan for the special session, it will not be possible for the fiscal analysis and legal divisions of the Legislative Counsel Bureau to prepare for the special session.”

Democrats have protested the tactic, saying it seems designed to make them take the blame for whatever is finally done.

In addition, he said, the two-week special session will cost more than half a million dollars the state can’t afford.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said many people are reacting to what she termed “this inept and hastily called special session.”

“This rushed, frenzied way of running government I think is extremely bad for the state,” she said. “It seems the reason the governor is handling this crisis this way is to divert attention away from his personal life.”

And Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, sent Gibbons a letter protesting the sudden call for the Friday Economic Forum just this week.

The forum must prepare economic projections for lawmakers to use in making budget cuts.

“I am extremely concerned about the validity of the numbers they will develop, given the very short time our fiscal staff will have to gather, analyze and prepare the data for presentation to the forum membership,” she wrote.

“You will be asking the Legislature to make decisions about budget cuts that will impact the lives of Nevadans and will have ramifications for our state for decades based on these hastily determined projections.”

– Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.