Tough sledding for Guinn’s budget
The state of the state of Nevada heading into the beginning of the 2003 legislative session on Feb. 3 is, we might say, contentious.
When the 120-day clock starts ticking, this Legislature will be able to focus on little other than a two-year budget and the tax increases or budget cuts, or both, needed to meet it.
Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn is leading the charge, backed by a task force of some of the state’s leading interests including the casino industry, to bring in $1 billion in additional tax revenue.
But it is the Republican caucus of the Legislature that could cause him the most grief, starting with a list of budget cuts presented by Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, just as the governor’s budget was going to the printer.
Several other Republicans have expressed their doubts about a quarter-percent gross receipts tax which is at the center of the revenue increases, while Democrats have blanched at program cuts that would be needed to trim the budget by $500 million or so.
All this means is the governor’s budget proposal Monday night during his state-of-the-state speech is seen by legislators on both sides as a starting point — a work in progress to be sculpted and molded to their liking, whether it bears any resemblance to the original or not.
This is the way most budgets are formed. But the number of issues associated with this one — and the high stakes for both state government and private businesses — portend some long, drawn-out battles.
All in 120 days. We wonder if the 2003 Legislature will get anything else accomplished.