Gov. Gibbons briefs lawmakers on Nev. budget woes

AP News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2009 5:09 PM

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons was briefing legislative leaders Monday as he decides if a special session is needed to balance the troubled state budget.

The first-term Republican governor and his budget staff had a telephone conference call with the leaders, Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said.

A video session was canceled because of a winter storm that shut down most state agencies in northern Nevada.

Further details about the briefings were not immediately available. A news conference was scheduled Tuesday for the governor to discuss the revenue shortfall and spending.

No decision has been made on a special session or if cuts can be made to get through the next 18 months of the two-year budget cycle, Burns said.

"A special session has always been a last resort," he said.

State revenue, dependent on tourism dollars and sales taxes, are about $60 million below projections made by the Economic Forum for the first three months of the current fiscal year.

By law, projections from the Economic Forum, an independent panel made up of business leaders and economists, must be used when setting a budget.

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Gibbons told department heads last week to prepare plans for budget cuts.

A special session would likely to repeal a state law that is keeping Nevada from competing for up to $175 million in federal education grants.

To apply for "Race to the Top" stimulus money, Nevada must abolish a 2003 law that prevents student test scores from being used in teacher evaluations.

The Legislature's Interim Committee on Education has scheduled meetings Dec. 11 and Dec. 17 to work on language repealing the law.