Nevada Senate passes bill to give state line of credit
The Senate on Tuesday amended and approved the bill designed to provide state government with a line of credit — essentially a short-term loan — to cover any unexpected, emergency funding issue.
Treasurer Zach Conine, whose office developed the plan, said Senate Bill 4 would give the state Board of Finance several mechanisms of covering an existing, legislative approved debt if it was temporarily unable to pay that bill. The line of credit, note or debentures would be backed by future state revenues and would only be good for three years.
Before approving the plan, members adopted an amendment by Sen. Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas, that sets out a trigger to determine when the process could be used and would require the governor, the office of finance, the Legislative Fiscal Division and Interim Finance Committee to be notified so the treasurer could explain the necessity before establishing the line of credit.
The vote for SB4 was unanimous.
Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, announced during that body’s brief session that he intended to process SB4 Tuesday evening before adjournment.
During their afternoon session, the Assembly unanimously approved Assembly Joint Resolution 1 calling on the federal government to not only give the states including Nevada another infusion of cash but to give the states a lot more flexibility in how to use the money. States including Nevada want to be able to use at least some of the federal dollars to backfill their deepest budget cuts, which is not permitted by the CARES Act funding package.
The vote for AJR1 was also unanimous in the Assembly and Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a statement saying he fully supports the resolution.
He said without more federal help, Nevada may suffer a slow recovery, lagging behind other states.
“The time for flexible federal funding that can be used to replace billions in lost revenue is now,” he said.
The remaining bills may be a bit more contentious.
The big one is AB3, the 80-page piece of legislation that contains almost all of the budget cuts imposed to re-balance the fiscal 2021 budget. That includes hundreds of millions in cuts to health and Human Services, the Nevada System of Higher Education and nearly every other executive branch agency.
Then there’s AB1 which orders state workers to take a day per month unpaid furlough through the year, effectively a 4.6 percent pay cut. Those workers deemed critical such as public safety officers would not be furloughed but would just lose 4.6 percent of their pay. It also ends pay raises including merit increases during the year and gives the state a one-month holiday on its share of state worker health premiums. That last would be paid for out of PEBP reserves.
Finally, SB3 would require mining companies in Nevada to not only pay this year’s Net Proceeds of Mines Tax but to pre-pay next year’s estimated tax.
It would also, for one year, double the percentage of the Governmental Services Tax that goes to the General Fund instead of the Highway Fund from 25 percent to 50 percent.