Nevada Assembly takes up bill that would cut budget
Members of the Assembly finally got into the meat of the special session on Wednesday, undertaking a detailed review of AB3, the measure that will cover the vast majority of the estimated $1.2 billon shortfall in Nevada’s fiscal 2021 General Fund budget.
The when all pieces of the 80-page are added together, it would erase $877,663,342 of that shortfall.
Speaker of the Assembly Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, advised the membership that this is the original bill proposed by Gov. Steve Sisolak and that there will be a number of changes proposed by the Legislature that will alter the numbers before it is passed.
The largest single piece of that total is the $535.9 million in cuts to the budgets of executive, judicial and legislative branch agencies. Another $158.7 million comes out of K-12 education budgets,
The vast majority of the K-12 cuts, $149.7 million, was taken from categorical programs such as Read By Three. That program lost its entire $31.4 million budget.
Also eliminated was the $69.9 million funding the project to develop formula to replace the Nevada Plan that has apportioned state funding for schools since the 1960s.
Class Size Reduction lost $18.1 million and the state Department of Education lost $8.9 million and extensive school safety programs including $8.4 million in campus safety improvement, lost a total of $12.3 million.
Lawmakers didn’t cut the per-pupil funding that comes to school districts through the Distributive School Account.
The governor’s proposed cuts bring another $113.2 million from sweeping funds out of a long list of reserves, trust accounts and dedicated funds. Such as the Millennium Scholarship and Public Employee Benefits Program reserves.
In addition to executive branch agencies the Legislature was tapped for $5.18 million of its $36 million FY 2021 budget and the Judiciary for $1.97 million. The problem in cutting the Judicial Branch is that so much of its $43.9 million budget goes to salaries of District, appellate and Supreme Court judges. Under the state constitution, salaries of elected officials can never be raised or lowered during their term of office.
After the technical presentations, the Assembly took more than an hour of testimony from people opposed to different portions of AB3. Opponents were primarily against to cuts in preventative child dental care through Medicaid, cuts to the K-12 education categorical programs and to mental health treatment programs.
In addition, different individuals, local government agencies, advocates and organizations filed a total of 126 exhibits offering primarily opposition to the legislation.
The amendment is still being developed and was not available.
Still to come are the bills dealing with the net proceeds of mines, the Governmental Services Tax and state worker furloughs plus elimination of their merit pay.
Already approved is the bill cutting more than $72 million from the Capital Improvement Projects list.
When added up, all, those measures get the total budget reductions for FY 2021 to just about $1.2 billion.