Archive for February, 2010

Bipartisan Budget Deal in Place

By Sean Whaley | 8:10 pm February 28th, 2010

(Updated at 1:47 a.m. on March 1, 2010)

CARSON CITY – As a deal to close an $805 million budget gap was announced today, bringing a close to a sometimes rancorous six-day special session, Republican lawmakers say they helped shape the debate that led to a minimal use of taxes and fees to balance the spending plan.

And in another more modest victory, Republicans in the Legislature won bipartisan support for a resolution asking the 2011 Legislature to consider opening up to public view the collective bargaining process used by local governments and employee unions to negotiate salaries and benefits.

Gov. Jim Gibbons asked for consideration of the collective bargaining proposal in his proclamation adding issues to the special session, and Assembly Republicans had made it a key point in their acceptance of any budget-balancing plan.

The proposal, along with a collection of education reform measures sought by Gibbons, including a voucher school proposal, did not get hearings, however.

Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, called it a win for her 14-member caucus, which is in a difficult bargaining position because of its minority status. Democrats in the Assembly outnumber Republicans 28 to 14, enough votes to approve new fees without support from the GOP members.

“Our caucus is very concerned about transparency,” she said. “We recognize that billions of taxpayer dollars are spent through collective bargaining process and we believe the taxpayers deserve to know where that money is spent.”

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, also welcomed the decision to seek transparency in the labor negotiation process.

Legislative leaders of both parties also praised Gibbons, who is facing a tough primary election battle against former federal judge Brian Sandoval, for working with them to craft an acceptable plan.

Gibbons spent long hours with lawmakers in closed-door meetings with legislative leadership over the past few days to come to an agreement.

The praise from Raggio was particularly noteworthy, given that he and Gibbons had exchanged some pointed criticisms in the days leading up to the session and during the session itself. Raggio has said in public comments he believes Sandoval is the only Republican candidate with a chance of defeating Democrat Rory Reid in the governor’s race.

Gansert has endorsed Sandoval in the primary race.

In announcing the agreement, Gibbons said everyone had to give something up to get bipartisan support and he credited Democrats and Republicans for working together.

“It took a lot of give and a lot of take and a lot of debate, some of it heated at times,” he said.

Raggio said the cuts to be implemented by the Legislature will be severe.

“There is going to be some pain out there,” he said. “Hopefully some of this will be an impetus for us to take a long hard look at how we fund state government, not to mention what goes on in local governments,” he said.

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said she was pleased to be able to reduce the cuts to public and higher education. The agreement reduces public education cuts to $117 million instead of $211 million. Higher education is cut b y $46 million instead of $76 million.

Some of the “worst of the worst” cuts to Health and Human Resources programs were also restored, she said.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, also highlighted the ability to reduce the cuts first proposed by Gibbons.

“There are certain parts of the plan that each one of us don’t like,” he said.

But reducing the education cuts from 10 percent to 6.9 percent was a big victory, Horsford said.

Gansert said the language encouraging the 2011 Legislature to subject the collective bargaining process to the state open meeting law was added to Senate Concurrent Resolution 1, which passed the Senate earlier this week urging local governments and employee groups to mutually address the budget shortfall. Gansert said the language is as strong as allowed, since current lawmakers cannot bind future Legislatures to a particular course of action.

The vote on the budget bill in the Assembly was 34-8, with all eight “no” votes coming from the GOP caucus. The vote in the Senate was 20-1. Only Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, voted no.

While voting against the budget plan because of the mining and banking fee increases it contains, Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, said Republicans clearly influenced the dialogue over how to balance the budget.

When Assembly Republicans proposed their own plan that balanced the budget without new taxes or fees not contributed directly by users, it pushed Democrats to move away from those revenue sources, he said.

“Us showing a united front, with a solution, absolutely drove the Democrats to a resolution that is less reliant on more spending, more taxes and more fees, and back to being more fiscally responsible,” he said.

Gansert, who voted for the bill, said the Republican influence can be seen in that only about $52 million of the total shortfall is being addressed with new fees. Most is coming from $26 million in a mining claim fee increase that was modified to exempt small operators and $13.8 million from an increased fee on banks when filing notices of default.

That is just a fraction of the overall shortfall, she said.

The caucus did also agree to restore some cuts Gibbons had proposed in public and higher education, Gansert said.

“We absolutely don’t like all of it,” she said. “It was a struggle to add anything back to tell you the truth.”

Gansert predicted that some, but not all, of her caucus would vote for the plan and her prediction held true.

Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, opposed the budget bill because of the banking and mining fees.

“There are some difficult pills in there to swallow,” he said.

Settelmeyer said he would have liked to see progress in the special session on the collective bargaining proposal as well.

“Our caucus stood up as a group and said it was important to us,” he said.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, voted for the agreement once he received assurances that the mining claim fee will not affect the small operators.

He praised Gibbons and the leadership for working out an agreement.

As to the failure of the Legislature to consider Gibbons’ other issues, Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said the proper focus of the special session was balancing the budget.

“These other policy concerns are best brought up in a regular session when the public can have full access and deliberations can be held. I don’t think it is appropriate to take up major policy reforms in a special session,” she said.

Special Session: 6:43 p.m.

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:43 pm February 28th, 2010

All right, Dear Readers!  Just in from the front steps of the legislative building where the governor and legislative leadership held a press conference, the gist of which was “we all pulled together as a team.”  Means they really, Really have a deal now, and we’ll see the bill hit the two floors tonight.

A legislative leader told me after the presser that they will cut and paste all the piecemeal stuff into an omnibus bill so…yes, it seems, this will be done tonight.

Sean Whaley will post a sum-up with quotes from the press conference and details of the bill on the front page (and all the other major newspapers will do a full write-up), so I’ll just share some interesting snippets:

– The deal includes a new (tiered by size) mining claim fee structure.

– The deficit is now officially $805 million (increased net proceeds revenue and secretary of state fees have reduced it).

– Ralston summed up the unspoken sentiment of the leadership (Gibbons, Raggio, Gansert, Buckley, Horsford) pretty well:  “We used to despise each other and called each other names for a few weeks, but now, for the purposes of this performance in front of the Legislative Building, we are The Five Musketeers — one for all and all for one.

– The governor acknowledged he has received the Race to the Top bill but said he has yet to decide whether to sign it. A split in opinions among his senior staff is causing the waver.  My source told and still tells me:  He will not veto.

– Cuts to state funding for K-12 education will be $116.8 million; cuts to higher ed will be $46 million instead of $76.  Most of the Health and Human Services cuts that had been suggested didn’t happen.  And the Nevada State Prison will remain open.

– A four-day work week for most State offices will be instituted. $10 million will be saved through cutting certain State contracts with outside consultants. No more cuts to pay for State workers. $197 million will be redirected from State funds to needed areas. A tax amnesty program will help the state collect $20 million in unpaid taxes.

– Mining fees and fees on new gaming licenses have been increased, and the fee paid by banks when filing a Notice of Default has been raised from $50 to $100.

– Gibbons, acknowledging he is breaking his no-tax pledge, said a “fee is a tax” when Ralston asked him about the $200 foreclosure fee. But when pressed about signing a bill with a tax, he said he had to accept it as part of the “compromise” and to head off a gaming or sales tax.

And some notes/quotes:

– Gansert:  Biggest disappointment was not getting transparency w/ collective bargaining done.  “We do think it’s critically important.”  She is hopeful they can/will get to this issue next session.  “The taxpayers deserve to know where their money is spent.”  Said she was glad education cuts were reduced to 6.9% by consensus, thinks it was “the right thing to do.”  When I asked her about wrapping the whole bill into one big measure and how that would affect yes/no votes from her caucus, she said “some” Assembly Republicans would be voting “yes” to the plan, some “no.”  Declined to say which would be which.

– Horsford in his office after:  On the super majority requirement:  Gibbons put it to the voters, and they approved it.  Unless there is a change to that, it’s the law:  two-thirds is required not just to pass a tax but to pass a fee. “That is creating quite a limitation particularly when you have a group of legislators saying “no” to everything.”  Said a lot more, but everything else he said was just a recap of prior comments.

Special Session Update: 3:30 p.m.

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:34 pm February 28th, 2010

Assembly adjourned at 2-ish until 4-ish.  Budget deal not worked out quite yet.  Buckley looked relaxed, though, when I saw her 5 minutes ago.

Governor coming back over at some point.  No bills (except the two mentioned yesterday) have been sent over to him yet.

New language in water bill being worked out.  Will Assembly like?  Who knows.

That is it, Dear Readers.  Sit. Around. And. Wait.

Thank goodness we had the USA-Canada gold medal game to distract us for an hour or so.  Jubilation when USA scored with about 30 seconds to go in the 3rd period.  Dejection and shaking of heads when Canada scored about 10 minutes into OT.

New Mason-Dixon Poll Shows Lowden Up Over Tarkanian, Reid (but Tea Party Candidate a Factor)

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:35 am February 28th, 2010

The RJ this morning has the results of a new Mason-Dixon poll.

Lowden beats Reid 52-39% in a head-to-head with Reid and is now up over Tarkanian in the primary 47-29%. (In the primary match-up, Angle got 8% and Chachas got 1%.)

Tarkanian beats Reid 51-40% in a head-to-head.

Both Lowden and Tarkanian win more than 50% of the independent vote, with Reid at 31% against Lowden and 38% against Tarkanian.

The poll shows Reid drawing 36% of voters vs. 32% for a/the GOP candidate and 18% for a/the generic Tea Party candidate.  BUT as I’ve said before, though a/the Tea Party candidate will absolutely drain some support from a Republican candidate, we can’t know how much until we get a better look at the candidate.

A Deal!

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:39 pm February 27th, 2010

Looks like we can all go home tomorrow.  All the details to follow, but they worked out the mining thing, and the bank fees plus education cuts everyone could live with.

Faces beaming in the halls.

And, amazingly, the Senate is in session right now discussing Water.

Update (9:44 p.m.):  Per Ralston, on Channel 3 just now, education cuts = 6.9%.  So, less than the governor’s 10% but more than the 5% for which the Democrats hoped.

And gaming, apparently, got off scot-free.  This time.

Afternoon Updates, Gibbons in Leg Building, Possible Deal Tonight?

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:32 pm February 27th, 2010

The governor is in Buckley’s office with both she and Horsford.  We’re hearing there is a strong possibility of a deal tonight.  We can only hope…

Notes/snippets:

– Re: gaming, Horsford said earlier there’s a “placeholder” for them. Meaning, prob’ly, we’ll ding ‘em with whatever is needed at the end.

– Looks like we’ll hear Water, but many in Assembly saying there is not enough time to fully examine and understand it now.  Want to wait until 2011 session.  A consultant submitted a letter on the issue today; Ralston has it.  Not long after it was posted, Bob Fulkerson of PLAN sent out an email missive pointing to the link to the letter on Ralston’s blog and saying the following:

The memo linked above is from a California financial manager with extensive financial ties to Clark County. (Yes, it is in his self interests to do what Pat Mulroy tells him to.) It has just been delivered to members of the NV Legislature.

It’s a thinly veiled threat that, without coming right out and saying it, admonishes the Legislature to overturn the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding due process for water protestants. Failure to act now could threaten credit for Las Vegas, the memo alleges. It completely ignores the fact that further additional processes will not even truly delay SNWA’s Pipeline Project, which will not be built for many years anyway – if ever.

The memo is a gross over-reaction to a very narrow ruling in a case involving major Constitutional due process problems. These issues cannot be legislated away. Trying to do so will only create a more complicated mess for every branch of Nevada’s government.

If you have not contacted your legislators yet telling them what an abominations this bill is, please do so right now!

– Earlier, Ralston Flashed that “lawmakers have only transmitted two of the session’s bills to the governor’s office” — electronic child support measure and the bill to pay for the special session — “leading the Gibbonsites to believe they hope to send most over at once so the veto clock is synchronized on them. No one wants the veto/override scenario but it’s possible lawmakers are not taking any chances so are holding all bills until a deal is reached.”

– Education progress:  Passage of three bills: AB4, AB5 and ACR 2.  AB4 provides school districts the flexibility in previously mandated class-size reductions for first-to-third grades (i.e. allows districts to increase student-teacher ratios by 2 students per class – 18-to-1 in 1st and 2nd grades, and 21-to-1 for 3rd).  Will result in some teacher layoffs and/or transfers in some counties.  AB2 allows school districts the flexibility to use money that has been specifically earmarked for new textbook purchases to be used for other stuff.  Both AB4 and AB2 are temporary; they sunset on 6/30/11.  ACR2 asks school districts to make every effort to do what they can to avoid massive layoffs and make sure that the quality of education does not diminish during the crisis.

– LG Brian Krolicki earlier testified before the Assembly on the GOP’s idea to securitize unclaimed property funds. Dems grilled him as to why trading future revenue for a one-time payoff is a good idea. Some of my Tweets from that interaction:

– Krolicki on Assembly floor: “This idea to monetize unclaimed property is only a tool to bridging gap…could generate up to $120M.”

– Krolicki (cont): “…agreeing 2 enter into selling of securities…need 2 pledge at 2x coverage ($14M/year) at conservative rate (5%)”

– Speaker Buckley interrupts Krolicki: “I am going to put a limit on length of Qs & As. We’d like to sine die sometime soon.” #nvss #amen

Note:  #nvss = nevada special session (search and follow the tag for all the coverage)

– Conklin to Krolicki: “…aren’t we just adding to next biennium’s shortfall by taking this money?” Krolicki: “Better of bad options”

– Gansert 2 Krolicki: “Could this be held as a last resort, maybe even pull trigger in 2011; how fast could we move?” K: “60 to 90 days”

– State Treasurer Kate Marshall on reality of $ from unclaimed property: “$50M in ’09 was record year. $77M in, $27M paid back.”

– Buckley asking about side-by-side analysis of this in other states. Marshall says CA & AZ did similar, bond/credit rating downgraded.

And a good Tweet from Ralston:

– I am puzzled: Why is this monetization scheme any more ridiculous than any of the other gimmicks they are using to balance the budget? #nvss

– Ed Goedhart, the sole “no” vote on two Assembly measures so far, reconfirms he will vote “no” on all “revenue enhancing measures,” even the ones suggested by his fellow Republicans, with the exception of borrowing money from the Clark County School District Capital Projects Fund and the possible exception of borrowing from the Clark County Reclamation Fund.  When asked if he will be the “sole” No vote on the other measures, he said, “I wouldn’t be surprised.”  His explanation is the same as always when asked.  “These are temporary band-aids. We’re looking at a $3 billion shortfall in the next biennium.  We need reform, not these desperate measures that kick the can down the road.”

– Other Assembly Republicans are not saying much (at least, not to me).  Snapped and Tweeted a pic of Oceguera discussing the budget with Settlemeyer, Hambrick, Goicoechea and Hardy during a brief Assembly recess earlier this afternoon.  For whatever that is worth.

High Court to Review Ruling in Gibbons Email Case

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:18 pm February 27th, 2010

As kicked off by Anjeanette Damon’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for emails between Governor Gibbons and various parties (10 of ‘em) between January and June 2008…and continued through the decision of District Judge Todd Russell who ruled that only six of 110 emails could be released…the matter now goes before the Supreme Court.

The LV Sun has the story here.

Furloughs, Four Day Work Week

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:50 pm February 27th, 2010

The Appeal‘s Dornan and Duggan wrote the scoop on furloughs and the four day work week this morning.  Snippets:

The governor and lawmakers have tentatively agreed not to increase the furloughs imposed on state workers.

State workers were hit with an eight-hour unpaid furlough each month during the 2009 Legislature. That translated to a 4.6 percent pay reduction and was very unpopular with employees.

Gov. Jim Gibbons’ original plan to balance the budget in the face of an $888 million shortfall called for the eight-hour monthly furlough for all state workers to be increased to 10 hours, a move that drew protests from state workers who say they were being hit harder than other public employees.

And:

The decision will add about $6.8 million to the total revenues needed to offset the shortfall.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed the bill that would close most state offices on Fridays. The potential change to furlough time would mean the Senate would have to reconsider it.

And:

The most recent version of the bill also appears to strip the furlough exemption given to the Department of Corrections.

The Senate, which passed the measure in a 19-2 vote, sent the legislation over to the Assembly for consideration late Friday where a vote wasn’t expected until this morning.

14 Vote Republican Stonewall on Deck in Assembly?

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:06 pm February 27th, 2010

Just after the Assembly adjourned after unanimously passing AB-4 and AB-5 ,four Republican Assemblymen said “yes” and nodded in unison when asked if we could expect 14 “no” votes on various (or all) Dem tax/fee proposals.

A member of the conservative caucus referred to the “no new taxes” GOP budget plan put out on Thursday evening and quipped:  “If all the numbers are not going to add up in the end anyway, why vote for any of it?”

On the tail end of all that, the governor emerged from a GOP meeting and reiterated “no new taxes” as he headed over to Buckley’s office.

Also, here’s AD’s morning post on two Republican legislators who are trying to adjust the mining claim fee deal because (they say) jacking fees too high will harm the smaller mines:

With the details of a final budget agreement still in flux, rural lawmakers are working to change the deal to increase mining claim fees.

They contend spiking the fee to $125 from $10 to $15 won’t hurt the big mining corporations, most of whom are represented by the Nevada Mining Association, which agreed to the fee increases. But the increase will burden the smaller mines.

“It’s killing the little guys,” said Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, said.

Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said large corporations will continue to explore, while the fee hike would hamper smaller exploration efforts.

If that happens: “No more mines,” Carpenter said.

The pair are hoping to convince legislative leaders to impose a tiered fee increase, charging big corporations as much as $300 and reducing the hike for smaller mines.

Taxes, Fees, Revenue Enhancement: Friday Special Session Review, Friday Night Re-Cap with Horsford, Saturday Preview

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:13 am February 27th, 2010

All right, here’s a round-up of all the main tax, fee and revenue stuff from the special session, bullet-style:

– Assembly Republicans put forth a re-worked Dem budget plan on Thursday evening.  Revenue and fee proposals include an increase in unclamed property transfers ($4M), tax amnesty ($5M), borrowing from Clark County School District capital projects funds ($25M) and Clark County Reclamation fund ($56M), a spend down of the ending general fund balance ($5M), an unclaimed property program ($91M), state park fee increases, Gaming Control Board investigation fees ($4.2M), and the mining deal ($62M).  Total revenue:  $253 million.

– Nevada Mining Association head Tim Crowley says the NMA agrees to prepay some taxes and raise a mining fee from the existing $5 to $25 in order to chip in $100 million. But both Gibbons and Horsford say they do not support pre-payment of taxes because they leave a budget gap.

– Assembly Democrats this week proposed that gaming pay for Gaming Control Board’s enforcement division to the tune of a $32 million tax hike.  But Gibbons said he would veto the measure unless gaming voluntarily agreed to it, and the Nevada Resort Association claimed (surprise, surprise) that it couldn’t get members on the same page.

– In a Senate floor discussion yesterday with gaming lobbyist (and head of R&R Partners) Billy Vassiliadis, Horsford said he wanted gaming to come to the table and do its part.  Vassiliadis retorted that (1) gaming has born up under three tax hikes since 2003, (2) gaming revenue dropped by a $6.7 billion during the last fiscal year and (3) gaming has laid off nearly 34,000 workers so far and that the new tax could lead to as many as 1,000 more layoffs..  He promised help in 2011  but said, “I am sorry to say that for the first time, this year, we just can’t help out.

– Horsford on gaming:  “In fairness to the gaming industry, they contributed nearly 50 percent to the general fund and yes, they have been asked to step up time and time again. But I think they have to do it again.”  And asked of gaming:  ”The question is why should the state subsidize your cost of doing business?”

– Buckley had said earlier this week that the $32 million they want from gaming (which now comes from the general fund) could be better spent on education.  Horsford said that the total spend on the Gaming Control Board ($62 million) could save 800 teachers jobs.

– When it was their turn to be in the Senate Floor hot seat, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Veronica Meter and Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Tray Abney said a lot of words amounting to one thing:  Business can’t help out.  Abney quipped, “If my members cease to exist, government ceases to exist.”  He asked the Legislature to ease the hiring process for businesses by streamlining registration and taxes.

– Senator Randolph Townsend jumped to his feet and grilled Abney. “’No’ is not a plan. Taxing the world is not a plan,” he said, adding, “You are wasting our time. You need to be at the table now.”  Townsend asked Meter and Abney to come up with ideas; the two essentially repeated their talking points. Townsend reiterated his position (for whatever good that did:  there is a two-thirds vote needed to raise taxes and the governor is strongly opposed to a business tax increase, so the business community has no motivation to volunteer anything).

– Other business reps – trucking, the retail association, manufacturers and banks – also testified on the Senate floor.  Interestingly, Nevada Brothel Association lobbyist George Flint joined mining and offered up some help by re-suggesting last year’s idea of a $5 tax on prostitution, saying it would raise $2 to $2.5 million.

– Late last night, Horsford met with the press corps to discuss the remaining agenda and state of negotiations.  Some blurbs and bullets from the Q&A:

– Re: gaming’s position:  “I’m a little disappointed” and “I think they should come to the table.” When asked if he believes gaming cannot afford $32 million, Horsford said bluntly, “No” and added, “Thirty million is three 10 million dollar high-rollers.  I mean, come on.”  He went on to say, “Steve Wynn just announced 400 hires, a new night club and the opening of a new pool.  That is in conflict with the statement, ‘We just can’t.’”

– Horsford: “Revenue reform is at the top of the agenda for 2011. It is THE agenda.”

– Horsford said he was “really pleased” that Gibbons had spent so much time meeting with the Legislature Thursday and Friday.  He said the governor had been “listening to proposals and views” and “interjected his own ideas” and that he seemed “genuinely interested in reaching an agreement.

– When asked if he would agree to 5% education cuts (the current agreed-upon number is 7.5%), Horsford said, “Yes, but having said that, we want the cuts to be as low as possible.”

– Re: the proposal by Assembly Republican to open up collective bargaining to public meeting rules, Horsford said he does not support it, and city and county managers are pushing back because they are in the middle of contract negotations now.

– When asked whether water will stay on the special session agenda, Horsford said he did not think there would be enough time for it.

– Re: Race to the Top, Horsford indicated that based on his conversations with Assistant Secretary of Education at the DOE, he expected the state to qualify for the federal grant funds.

– Re: Senator Townsend and his heated remarks on the Senate floor, Horsford quipped, “I wish we could do term limit reform.”

Today’s expected events:

–More closed door meetings between the governor and the Legislature.

– More discussion of how deep education cuts will be: 7. 5% or 5%.

– More arguing over taxes and fees for gaming and business.  More working out of how mining revenue will work.

– Race to the Top bill sits, or if it goes to Gibbons, does not get vetoed after all.

– A deal, and we all go home tomorrow.  Maybe.

Clark County Comissioner + Lobbyist + SNWA Board Member = Need to Abstain

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:42 pm February 26th, 2010

Steve Sebelius has an interesting piece up on Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins activities here in Carson City this week.  Seems he’s not only an elected official but also a lobbyist.  And on the board of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.  No ethics issues, necessarily, as long as Collins abstains from certain votes. Go read more.

Live Tweets from Governor on Face to Face

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:12 pm February 26th, 2010

Crazy day here, Dear Readers. Will do a little catch up right now.  Let the blogging begin…

Got a chance to watch Governor Gibbons on Ralston’s show tonight.  Live Tweeted it.  Here they are:

From Face to Face studio: Gov light hearted, joking w/ set crew. “Where’s Mr. Ralston? Why am I here first? I’m taking his chair.”

Governor tries to sit in Ralston’s chair. Ralston says, “No, you need to be over here. On the right.” Everyone laughs.

Ralston: Where are you on taxes, really? GIbbons: Always said will not accept unless voted on by public or accepted by org/industry

Gov talking about gaming license application fees as source of revenue. Says applicants r not current gaming peeps so not gaming tax.

Ralston grilling Gov on taxes, mining: Gibbons says “distasteful” that mining can take advertisting $ as deductions in good years.

Governor: Let’s not build our revenue & spending around uncertainties, commodities.

Ralston quotes Speaker re: Gibbons reacting to political slam of day, not being consistent. Gibbons begs to differ. Shocker.

Gibbons talking general fund, reductions, education cuts; says debate is over revenue increases to fill in for lower edu cuts.

Gibbons differentiating between edu cuts that affect the kids directly, and cuts that get rid of highly paid adminstrators.

Ralston asked if Gov going 2 veto Race to the Top. Gov says looking at it, but still concerned re: language, DOE grant approval.

Governor jokes to Ralston just before last segment starts: “Don’t look so serious.” Ralston: “I’m smiling on the inside.”

Ralston asks Gov about primary, cites polls, why #s so low. Gov says it is difficult for all governors in tough economic times.

Governor Will Not Veto Race to the Top Bill

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:48 pm February 26th, 2010

A source inside Governor Gibbon’s office today said Gibbons will not veto the Race to the Top education bill passed Wednesday evening by the state Senate and Assembly during the special session of the Legislature.

A Gibbons spokesperson told the Las Vegas Review Journal yesterday that he intended to veto the bill because some language in it would prevent the state from securing a $175 million federal grant that would help Nevada schools.

The Assembly voted 42-0 and the Senate voted 16-5 to change a state law that so far has prevented Nevada from applying for the grant. Five of the nine Senate Republicans voted against the bill on grounds that language in it might lead the federal Department of Education to reject the state application for a grant.

The governor’s legal team still believes the language in the bill may cause it to be rejected, said the source, but Gibbons has decided to sign the bill with the intention of trying to work with the DOE for grant approval and to show his commitment to putting education first both in this special session and the state.

Assembly Speaker Says Governor’s Education Reform Plan Not Likely to Get Hearing in Special Session

By Sean Whaley | 12:37 pm February 26th, 2010

(Updated at 2:37 p.m. on Feb. 26, 2010)

CARSON CITY – Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley said “probably not” when asked this morning if the Legislature will have the time to consider education reform and the other measures included in Gov. Jim Gibbons proclamation for the special session now entering its fourth day.

Gibbons on Wednesday amended the proclamation to include a number of issues he had previously asked the Legislature to consider at the special session, including amendments to the state’s collective bargaining law, a school voucher, or scholarship, program and elimination of the state mandates for smaller class sizes in the lower elementary grades of the public schools.

Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said the governor would be disappointed if the Legislature did not make an effort to take up at least some of the proposals included in the proclamation.

“The governor would like to see some effort by the Legislature to consider all of the education reform measures,” Burns said. “But he would like to see at least some effort to consider some of the proposals he has made, to have the Legislature show they have some level of interest in modernizing the system of public education in this state.”

Burns acknowledged that Gibbons has called on the Legislature to finish its work by the end of the day Sunday. But the pace of the Legislature up to now, described by some as “glacial,” already has afforded some time to consider education reform, he said.

“We’re in the fourth day,” Burns said. “How many bills have come to the governor’s office?”

Gibbons still has not received the bill to change Nevada law to allow the state to compete for federal Race to the Top funds, passed by the Legislature on Wednesday, he said.

While pleased that lawmakers are now picking up the pace, and that lawmakers are actively working on solutions to the $900 million budget shortfall, Gibbons will be surprised and disappointed if the Legislature can’t take the time to consider one single idea to improve education, Burns said.

“All we’re asking for is a fair shake,” he said. “The governor has said he will bring the issue up again.”

While hearings on education reform do not appear likely, the Assembly today did introduce a bill to allow for the temporary increase in class sizes in the next school year to deal with the impending public school budget cuts.

Assembly Bill 4 would allow school districts to add two students to class sizes in grades 1, 2 and 3. Those classes are now limited to 16 students per teacher in grades 1 and 2 and 19 students in grade 3.

Joyce Haldeman, representing the Clark County School District, supported the bill, saying the addition of two pupils to the classes in these three grades would save the district $30 million next school year.

Gibbons wanted the class-size mandate permanently repealed.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, said he believes the measures should be given some attention, even though lawmakers are under pressure to balance the budget and adjourn as soon as possible.

“We owe any governor the courtesy to at least look at these,” he said.

The two houses could divide the proposals to speed the process up, Hambrick said.

“Give him a chance in the batter’s box,” he said.

Gibbons Makes Rare and Unannounced Visit to Legislative Building, Meets with Raggio, Gansert and Goicoechea

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:42 pm February 25th, 2010

Upon hearing that Governor Gibbons — in a rare and unannounced visit to the legislative building — was in the house, the press corps here in quaint Carson City rushed first to Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley’s and then Senate Minority Bill Raggio’s offices to see what was up.  Word was, Gibbons was meeting with Raggio, Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert and Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea.

The press waited.  Bantered.  Waited some more.  For an hour-ish.  (Tick. Tock.)

My speculation, via Twitter, about what was being said while waiting:

Re: Gibbons/Raggio meeting, discussing RTTT? Gov probly prefers not to veto so as not to give anti-edu campaign ammo to Raggio pal Sandoval.

(RTTT = Race to the Top, which passed both the Assembly and Senate late yesterday and which the governor has repeatedly threatened to veto.)

‘Twas assumed by all that some peacemaking was going on in light of Raggio’s outrage about the governor’s recent allegation that he has not been present at many budget discussions and meetings.

Raggio came out of his office after a bit.  Said nothing other than that the discussion was “congenial” and that he “respected” the governor’s effort to reach out.  Looked tired.

We then waited on Gibbons. Quite awhile.

Tweeted this while doing that (regarding the Monday night confrontation at the Reno airport):

Team KLAS waits 4 Gibbons 2 appear. Will sparks fly? Will Gov cry (or lie)? These are the Days of Our Lives… #nvss http://yfrog.com/aipoyj

(Click that link and watch the raw video if you missed the governor’s latest controversy.  At the end of the video clip, after lying repeatedly to KLAS reporter Jon Humbert about the situation (as was proven later – you can read about it on the KLAS page), Gibbons heatedly tells Humbert, “You are full of sh*t.”  The whole affair is kind of icky, but: makes for good TV.)

Gibbons finally came out of Raggio’s office and said even less (and nothing unexpected).  Said discussions were “cordial.”  And “negotiations are sensitive.” There are “sticking points.”  They are trying to reach agreement within the GOP and then will move to work on same with Dems.  He wants them done by his Sunday “deadline.”

If the governor and GOP leaders can get on the same page…!?…they could thwart the Dems.

Most of the press stopped at the front door, but Nevada News Bureau capital bureau chief, Sean Whaley, followed Gibbons across the street and had a chance to ask a question about taxes and/or fees on mining.  The governor said he is willing to work with mining on alternatives to his rejected tax deduction reduction plan.

“We will be able to deal with it in another fashion,” he said.

Translation:  We’ll take what they give us.