A crowd of up to 200 people gather on April 18 to protest Gov. Steve Sisolak’s stay-at-home order. Drivers honk in support of reopening businesses. Reno Gazette Journal
Gov. Steve Sisolak is calling for $116 million in immediate spending cuts to help fill an $812 million state budget hole caused by the coronavirus.
Proposed budget adjustments announced late Tuesday would slash a combined $67 million from spending on higher education and health services. The plan would also cancel $49 million in expected tech upgrades, vehicle purchases and other one-shot expenditures first OK’d by lawmakers in 2019.
“The state is making difficult budgetary decisions at this time that are necessary to end Fiscal Year 2020 with a balanced budget following the unexpected impact of a world-wide pandemic,” Sisolak said in a statement. “While Nevada is on the road to recovery and gradually reopening our economy, we are working diligently with our state agencies to identify the reductions necessary for fiscal responsibility while prioritizing the resources necessary to protect the health and safety of Nevada’s residents.”
COVID-related travel and social distancing restrictions have decimated the Silver State’s tourism-driven economy in recent weeks, prompting huge waves of casino worker layoffs that overwhelmed the state’s unemployment office.
Casino resort closures also stanched the flow of crucial sales and gaming taxes that pay for most of Nevada’s budget, opening up a massive budget gap that includes a $265 million projected shortfall in K-12 education funding.
State leaders last month drained the Legislature’s rainy day fund to help patch those holes, OK’ing a massive $401 million transfer that left Nevada with less than $120 million for other unanticipated expenditures and revenue shortages.
Sisolak’s latest plan to steady the state budget aims to save an additional $200 million via transfers and reductions to other reserve funds, such as the state’s Disaster Relief Account.
The blueprint is expected to be approved at a Friday meeting of the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee.
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.
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