Nev. gov seeks new revenue projections before cuts

AP News
Posted: Dec 08, 2009 4:28 PM

Gov. Jim Gibbons said Tuesday he will ask the state's top economic advisers for new revenue projections as he considers another round of budget cuts and a possible special legislative session to deal with Nevada's fiscal woes.

Gibbons, speaking at a news conference in Carson City, said agency heads have been given until the middle of this month to submit plans on how they would reduce spending by up to 3 percent.

"I may request more budget reduction scenarios as we develop a better picture of our revenue shortfall," Gibbons said, adding that each agency has been given authority to device their own reductions.

For the first three months of the fiscal year that began July 1, state spending has outpaced revenue by about $50 million.

"The budget has increased excessively and the revenue to support the added spending has not," Gibbons said.

The first-term Republican governor said all alternatives are on the table, including possible layoffs, extended furloughs and salary cuts. Gibbons added he has made no decision on whether a special session will be needed to deal with the state's finances.

Another round of budget cuts would be the fifth in less than two years.

The 2009 Legislature cut $1 billion in spending but also added that amount in new taxes, most of which expire at the end of 2010. One-time federal stimulus funds also were used to balance the budget.

Lawmakers also mandated state workers take one unpaid day off a month during the two-year budget cycle in an effort to save about $330 million. The furloughs amount to about a 4.6 percent pay cut.

Some legislators have said they oppose a special session as being premature, saying the budget could be handled through the administration and the Legislature's Interim Finance Committee.

While a special session for the budget may be avoided, Gibbons said lawmakers will be convened before June to change a law that bars Nevada from competing for new federal education grants.

That law prevents student test scores from being used to evaluate teachers. It also disqualifies Nevada from applying for "Race to the Top" grants.

Stacy Woodbury, deputy chief of staff, said Nevada would not meet requirements by a Jan. 19 deadline to apply for the grant money, even if the law is repealed by then.

The deadline for the second phase of grants is in June.