The Nevada Legislature will get off to a slow start on Tuesday after lawmakers stayed up late to approve steep construction spending cuts and a one-year waiver of Millennium Scholarship requirements for students negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Senate Bill 1 is expected to save the Silver State $73 million by delaying, canceling or refinancing construction and upkeep at dozens of state-owned properties. A $20 million advanced engineering building at UNLV counts as the largest project abandoned as part of the belt-tightening effort. It passed both statehouse chambers unanimously.
Senate Bill 2, the Millennium Scholarship measure, is actually expected to cost the state a few million dollars, though it enjoyed a similarly smooth ride to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s desk.
The bill allows the Nevada State Board of Regents to temporarily waive minimum grade point average and college credit requirements imposed on scholarship recipients when the governor declares a state of emergency. It passed unanimously, with only minor amendments meant to boost legislative oversight of the one-year waiver initiative.
Students eligible for the popular 21-year-old scholarship program are typically required to maintain a minimum 2.6 GPA per semester while pursuing at least nine credits at a college or university accredited by the NSHE.
Lawmakers didn’t gavel out until after 9 p.m. on Monday and are not scheduled to return until 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, when the Assembly is set to hold a second hearing on once-a-month state worker furloughs recommended by Sisolak.
The first-term Democrat last week released a 40-page budget-repair blueprint centered around “deep cuts in services and proposals.” The plan leaves it up to the Legislature to decide whether to pursue “augmentation of existing revenue sources” via tax increases.
If and when legislators succeed in cleaning up the COVID-caused budget mess, the governor has said he will “issue a subsequent proclamation for the Legislature to consider policy items that rise to the extraordinary occasion of a special session.”
Those items are widely expected to include reforms to the state’s criminal justice system, along with major changes to the state’s embattled unemployment office.
James DeHaven is the politics reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. He covers campaigns, the Nevada Legislature and everything in between. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here.