Treasurer watches state coffer diminish |

Treasurer watches state coffer diminish

Kathryn Reed, Tahoe Daily Tribune Managing Editor

Investments are never a sure thing. Some days state Treasurer Brian Krolicki would be better off picking red or black at the roulette table, instead of second-guessing the market.

He jokes with his counterparts in other states that Nevada’s investment broker is really a pit boss.

The Stateline resident who commutes to Carson City admits his job is a whole lot more fun when the coffers are flush with cash, instead of dry as a bone like now.

It is his job to manage the billions of dollars that are generated and spent by the state.

“Nevada has two problems. One is making it to June 30, and then getting a budget for the next biennium,” Krolicki said. “We will be running on fumes. I am not sure we will have cash in June.”

He recognizes Nevada needs to find ways to generate money. Currently, 70 percent of the general fund comes from gaming and sales taxes. He said in the last four years, the sales tax has been more prolific than gaming.

A good example is how Park Place Entertainment and Mirage Resorts give more money to the state in sales taxes than gaming.

“California will soon be the largest gaming state. Life will be different in Nevada,” Krolicki said.

He predicts Reno, Laughlin and Carson City will be challenged by the proliferation of gaming outside of the state, while admitting no one will ever be able to recreate Las Vegas’ Strip. He speculates the Tahoe area is insulated enough to weather the impacts of Indian gaming.

Nevada, like many states, is contending with a budget deficit that will undoubtedly mean cuts to public services. And in a state where the population has increased by 60 percent in 10 years, there are more and more people who need those services.

Laws govern what the state can and cannot cut. Medicaid and mental health programs are on the chopping block. Krolicki explained how some programs could be cut even more than by what is being proposed in the Legislature if they receive matching dollars from the federal government. If the state dollars go by the wayside, so goes the federal funding.

Krolicki looks across the street from his office to the Legislature in hopes its members come up with viable options to the budget crisis before it becomes necessary to padlock the doors of schools to get people’s attention that the situation is dire.

One thing being looked into is shortening the school year by a week.

“Six million dollars is saved every day (when) kids are not in school,” Krolicki said.

Another hat he wears is being the Marlboro man — or at least the collector of tobacco dollars. Nevada’s portion from the tobacco settlement could amount to $1.2 billion in the next 25 years.