Posts Tagged ‘cuts’

Ron Paul’s Big Announcement: Big Cuts to Big Government

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:03 pm October 17th, 2011

America’s favorite libertarian Texas congressman is proposing nearly $4 trillion in cuts and a fully balanced budget during his first term as president.

Ron Paul addresses supporters and press at The Venetian

In what was hyped as a “major announcement”, Ron Paul today introduced a plan to slash the national deficit and abolish entire departments of the federal government. The thrust of the proposal is what Paul describes as “constitutionally-limited, smaller-government”.

Some highlights of Paul’s “Plan to Restore America“:

  • Cuts $902 billion in spending during the first year of the Paul presidency (compared to current spending levels)
  • Eliminates five federal departments:  Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Interior
  • Lowers the corporate tax rate to 15 percent
  • Makes a 10 percent reduction in the federal workforce
  • Eliminates all U.S. foreign aid
  • Allows younger citizens to opt out of Social Security
  • Converts the federal Medicaid program and other social programs into block-grants distributed to states

“A lot of people will say, ‘Cutting a trillion dollars in one year? That sounds radical,’” Paul said to a crowd of approximately 240 (plus staffers) at The Venetian resort in Las Vegas. “I operate on the assumption that the radicals have been in charge way too long.”

Paul emphasized that his plan does not cut from veterans’ programs and defense. As in previous appearances, he drew distinctions between military spending on foreign wars and “true” defense spending to protect the U.S. homeland from attacks.

“The other candidates have not offered this,” Paul said of his plan. “I don’t believe they think it’s very serious. They think they can just tinker around the edges, but the American people are ready for some honest thinking and some honest reforms.”

When asked how he can win the hearts and minds of neo-conservatives and defense hawks who believe America’s present foreign military operations are worthy, Paul quipped, “Being a conservative used to mean not spending money.”

Paul went on to explain that he thinks there has been “a change” in the American outlook on the effort in Afghanistan and elsewhere due to the approximately four billion spent on foreign wars in the past decade.

 

 

Democrats Admit New Taxes Dead For Session, Plan Meeting To Cut Their Proposed Spending Plan

By Sean Whaley | 1:52 pm May 23rd, 2011

CARSON CITY –Democrats in the Nevada Legislature are conceding they cannot raise new taxes this session to restore spending reductions in public education and other programs.

As a result, lawmakers have scheduled a joint Senate-Assembly budget committee Tuesday to “reconsider” their previous actions on adding hundreds of millions in funding to public education, higher education and health and human services programs.

Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, a member of the Finance Committee, said the purpose of the meeting is to make more cuts in the Democrat-approved budgets that have ended up about $968 million over the $6.1 billion spending plan submitted by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

“Yes, more cuts, more cuts in line with his budget,” Leslie said when asked the purpose of the meeting.

News of the budget meeting to make the cuts was first reported by the Nevada News Bureau.

Democrats in the Legislature have proposed a $1.2 billion tax plan to fund their spending restorations, but so far Republican lawmakers have not been willing to go along with the call to extend a package of sun-setting taxes, impose a tax on some services and establish a new business margin tax.

Sandoval has flatly rejected any proposal for new taxes to balance the budget. He has already vetoed a Democrat-approved public education funding plan passed earlier this month.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, who also serves as chairman of Senate Finance, was not as blunt about the purpose of the joint meeting: “We’re just going to open up the debate about where we are based on the budget and the revenue and see what type of consensus we can reach.”

But Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said Republicans have not wavered in their opposition to new taxes, and that Democrats are expected to make further spending cuts at the meeting tomorrow.

“I understand they are going to propose additional cuts, but I don’t know what they are going to be,” said Kieckhefer, a member of the Finance Committee. “I assume that it will either be to Economic Forum levels or to levels of Economic Forum plus sunset (taxes) extension, considering they are well over that. So they would have to pare it back to get to that level. We’ll see.”

There is no agreement with Republicans to extend the taxes approved by the 2009 Legislature that will expire June 30. If the taxes were extended, they would bring in about $626 million in additional revenue over the two years of the budget that will start July 1.

Horsford would not say tax increases sought by Democrats are officially dead for the session.

“We continue to meet with individual members to talk about ways to responsibly fund the budget and address concerns from the other side and I hope we will be able to reach full consensus by the June 6 deadline,” he said.

Horsford said Friday is a “big” deadline for getting the budget approved in time for the constitutionally-mandated adjournment.

“We don’t have to take action tomorrow,” he said.

Audio clips:

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford says the meeting is to have a debate to see if a consensus can be reached:

052311Horsford1 :09 we can reach.”

Horsford says talks with individual Republicans continue on the possibility of new revenues:

052311Horsford2 :13 June 6 deadline.”

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer says he expects Democrats to cut their party-line approved budget at the meeting tomorrow:

052311Kieckhefer1 :08 to be, so.”

Kieckhefer says he does not know if the cuts will match Economic Forum revenue projections or the projections plus the sun-setting taxes:

052311Kieckhefer2 :18 level, we’ll see.”

 

Proposed Medicaid Cuts To Skilled Nursing Homes Would Require Closures, Layoffs, Industry Officials Say

By Sean Whaley | 6:41 am March 22nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Representatives of Nevada’s skilled nursing home industry say up to five facilities could close and 700 beds lost if a proposal in Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget to cut the Medicaid reimbursement rate by $20 a day per patient comes to pass.

The closures would result in well-paid medical professionals being laid off and joining the ranks of Nevada’s already sizable population of unemployed, industry officials say.

It could also cause crowding problems in acute care hospitals because there would be no room in nursing facilities to take the seniors who are ready for release.

The reduction in reimbursement is one of several Medicaid rate decreases proposed for many types of medical providers as a way to help balance Sandoval’s proposed $5.8 billion general fund budget.

The skilled nursing reductions would save nearly $10 million over two years. All the Medicaid rate reductions to all medical providers would save nearly $60 million in total over the same period.

Donna Henderson, regional operations manager for Evergreen Health Care, which has five facilities in Nevada, said she does not expect to close any buildings. But layoffs are likely and Medicaid admissions will have to be capped if the cuts take effect, she said.

“It is better for me to have empty beds than Medicaid patients,” Henderson said. “We have not had a rate increase in Nevada in over nine years. I’ve been in the business for 32 years. These are dark times for long-term care.”

While her two facilities in Carson, one in Gardnerville, one in Ely and one in Pahrump are expected to remain open if the reimbursement rate cut takes effect, Henderson said she does believe there are other facilities in the state that will have to close their doors.

“They just won’t be able to operate under those conditions,” she said.

Daniel Mathis, chief executive officer for the Nevada Health Care Association, said the Medicaid reimbursement rate right now is $12 below cost, on average, for the skilled nursing industry in Nevada. Add another $20 reduction and the industry faces tough choices, he said.

“There is a business decision that has to be made by the providers: do they want to accept that patient,” Mathis said. “Because they are looking at if they do, they are going to lose money and be held accountable for providing care for that patient, and if they don’t their census will drop and their operation will fail that way as well.”

Charles Perry, president and government affairs liaison for the association, which represents Nevada’s long-term care industry, said it is an access to care issue. When hospitals have elderly patients ready for discharge, it is the skilled nursing industry that frequently takes them to provide a lower cost of care as they continue their recovery, he said.

“We are the hospitals’ safety-relief valve,” Perry said. “Now if we can’t take the patient out of the acute care hospital, that creates a problem within the hospital.”

Perry declined to name the facilities he expects will have to close if the rate decrease takes effect, saying to identify them would create panic for residents, their families and staff. The status of the reductions won’t be known until the Legislature finishes the budget in late May, he said.

“I can tell you there will be a large impact, if it comes to pass, in the rural areas,” Perry said.

Mike Willden, director of the Department of Health and Human Services, rejected the idea that rural nursing facilities would be forced to close if the rate reduction is implemented. Those rural facilities that are part of an acute care hospital are not affected by the proposed reduction but are reimbursed for their costs, he said.

The rate reduction would affect the 47 or so free standing skilled nursing facilities operated in urban areas of the state, Willden said. The agency does not have a lot of data on the profitability of the skilled nursing facilities, he said.

“I don’t know if they are making a profit or not,” Willden said. “I assume heretofore they have made a living or there wouldn’t be 47 facilities in business.”

Willden did note that the number of Medicaid recipients receiving care in a skilled nursing facility has remained stable over the past eight years at about 3,100 residents. Much of that has to do with providing less costly care in less restrictive settings, including the use of adult day care and home health care aides, he said.

These efforts are in keeping with a landmark 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision called Olmstead, which requires minimal use of institutionalization, Willden said. An independent consultant in 2010 found that Nevada has been, “one of the leading states in the country in its commitment to Olmstead.”

Perry said the association is meeting with the hospitals as well to present a united front against the reimbursement rate reductions.

“We don’t want to get into a situation where we’re pitting provider against provider,” Perry said.

Darrin Cook, vice president of clinical and operational services for Fundamental, which has a number of facilities in Nevada, said the payment reduction could create a domino effect from layoffs to decreased quality of care to increased violations identified by state and federal regulators.

Patient care could suffer, and that would not do anyone any good, he said.

“It could mean closures, staff reductions, pay reductions,” Cook said.

Audio clips:

Charles Perry of the Nevada Health Care Association says skilled nursing facilities are the relief valve for hospitals:

032211Perry1 :25 within the hospital.”

Perry says naming the facilities that could close would create unrest:

032211Perry2 :11 unrest and uncertainty.”

Perry says if the rate decrease is approved, it would affect rural areas of the state:

032211Perry3 :09 the rural areas.”

Darrin Cook of Fundamental says the rate decrease could mean staff reductions and pay reductions:

032211Cook1 :11 in the country.”

Daniel Mathis, CEO of the Health Care Association, says the reduction will force providers to make difficult business decisions:

032211Mathis1 :22 as well, so.”

 

Gov.-elect Sandoval Says Attracting New Businesses To Nevada A Top Priority

By Sean Whaley | 4:56 pm November 10th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval said today he will make it a priority as governor to encourage businesses to relocate to Nevada from neighboring states where taxes have been raised to deal with the economic slowdown.

In order to bring those businesses and jobs to Nevada, the state has to live within its means and maintain its minimal tax and regulatory environment, he said.

That means Sandoval, who takes office in January, will present a balanced budget to the 2011 Legislature that contains no tax or fee increases.

“Raising taxes and fees is the worst thing we can do when our economy is struggling,” he said.

Sandoval mentioned a recent report naming Nevada as the 5th best state in the country to do business, and he said preserving that ranking and capitalizing on it will be a priority of his administration. California ranked 50th in the same survey.

“I think we have a great opportunity to bring new businesses from the states of California and Oregon where they’ve chosen to raise taxes and where they over-regulate,” he said. “And so there are a lot of prospects out there. In fact I’m already beginning to make phone calls in terms of businesses that are looking at the state of Nevada to tell them that we have a very strong business environment. That this is a great place to live.”

Sandoval said Nevada has challenges with its education system, but that he will address that as well to ensure the state is attractive to new business.

“You know, it is no myth,” he said. “There are a lot of significant companies that are making serious consideration about relocating to the state of Nevada, and I’m going to be personally involved. And I’m going to make the phone calls, I’m going to make the visits, I’m going to sign the letters. I’m going to do whatever it takes because the bottom line is, is we need to bring more jobs to the state of Nevada and get people back to work.”

Sandoval met Tuesday with state Budget Director Andrew Clinger, getting his first review of the state revenue and spending picture. Today he also reappointed Clinger as budget director, and named former state Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert as chief of staff. He also named Dale Erquiaga, a former Clark County School District official, as senior adviser. 

Clinger said prior to the Tuesday meeting he anticipates the state will receive about $5.3 billion in tax revenues in the coming two-year budget that will begin July 1, 2011. The precise number will be set by the Economic Forum on Dec. 1.

The current two-year budget will see about $6.4 billion in general fund spending, although this does not include about $1.1 billion in revenue being spent in the current budget that will go away in the new budget, including $600 million in federal stimulus funds.

State agencies and higher and lower education have submitted budgets totaling $8.3 billion.

Sandoval called the budget meeting productive but preliminary, saying he is a long way from making decisions on how to balance the budget with only about $5.3 billion in revenue.

“There are still a lot of hard choices that have to be made,” he said. “There are going to be some budget reductions which I take very, very seriously.”

Audio clips:

Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval says cuts will be needed to balance the budget:

111010Sandoval1 :08 very, very seriously.”

Sandoval says Nevada has a great opportunity to attract new businesses from neighboring states:

111010Sandoval2 :09 and over regulate.”

Sandoval says he is already making calls to businesses to lure them to Nevada:

111010Sandoval3 13 place to live.”

Sandoval says there are major companies seriously considering relocating to Nevada:

111010Sandoval4 :22 back to work.”

Rory and Oscar Are BFFs

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:16 am April 28th, 2010

Teaming up to curb firefighter overtime (and other) costs to both city and county are a rather unlikely pair:  Clark County Commission chair Rory Reid and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

Other suggested cuts filed under the tab “shared services” are animal control, business licensing, information technology, parks, television production and purchasing.

According the LV Sun (which covered yesterday’s joint press conference at City Hall), Rory got real specific-like:

“It would be a disservice to those who made sacrifices not to point out those who have not,” Reid said…

“I’m talking about firefighters.”

Bam!

Wonder how many hate-grams and I-hope-your-house-doesn’t-catch-on-fire emails Rory got yesterday?  And did he forward them to Steve Sisolak so they could commiserate about the joys of public office?

Rory and Oscar want county and city staff to offer suggestions for service join-ups by June.

Commissioner Sisolak told the Sun he thought the changes would save each government entity in the ballpark of $1.1 million.  If so, that’s a lotta bank, and good for them (both).

Also of interest, Sisolak said he thinks the county ought to push for “zero-based” budgeting on collective bargaining agreements.  In a nutshell, this means Talks would start at “0″ rather than status-quo (which includes all kinds of perks, bonuses and benefits).

Doubt that’ll happen, but a guy (or gal) can dream.

Bonus Materials:

As reported by an insider with close ties to both municipal chiefs, here are a few texts exchanged between new pals Rory and Oscar while that City Hall press conference was going on:

Oscar:  U gonna name names and call out firefighters like u promised?

Rory:  Having second thoughts. U do it.

Oscar:  No way! City employees already mad for layoffs threat. This one all u.

Rory:  I’m scared. Plus everyone hates u already, what’s BFD?

Oscar:  Look if u wanna be BMOC, u gotta do this stuff!!

Rory:  But I want everyone to like me.

Oscar:  WTF?! You are such a wimp!! Do it!!!!!!!!!

Rory:  Calm down! Jeez!! Did you skip martini this morning?

Oscar:  Spilled on drive here, forgot flask at home. Don’t change subject.  Say it!!

Rory:  All right! Will do. Sorry. Still BFFs?

Oscar:  4ever. Or at least ’til budget BS over.

Rory:  ok

Which Things Should Government Spend Less On?

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:06 pm April 9th, 2010

Blogger Dullard Mush brought this one to my attention yesterday via Twitter.

A survey of Americans on which federal programs they think should be subject to cuts.

Here’s what prompted the survey:

The Economist asked Americans: “What is the best way to cut the deficit?”

5% said, “increase taxes.”

62% said, “reduce government spending.”

OK, said The Economist. “Here is a list of things the federal government spends money on. Which things should the government spend less on?”

Go see what others said, and choose your favorites.

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.

Gibbons Comments from Today’s Nevada Newsmakers

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:17 pm February 23rd, 2010

Governor Gibbons was on Nevada Newsmakers today.  At the start of the show, he got a series of questions about the mining tax plan and criticisms from conservatives about his breach of the Tax Pledge.  Gibbons defended the plan, saying it is about increasing revenue by “closing loopholes.”

He did add, “I guess anytime you increase the amount of revenue from taxes, it’s a tax increase” but then went on to say of/about his critics, “I like these guys, they are very smart, very bright and very supportive of me – but we just happen to disagree on terminology here. I am not increasing taxes.”

(sigh)

Re: fee increases in gaming and whether doing that is similar enough in nature to the mining tax increase for Gibbons to support it, he said, “The mining industry says ‘we agree with this’.  I have not talked to the gaming industry about a tax proposal…but I am reluctant to support any fee or tax that isn’t brought in with 100% support of the industry.  It has to have broad support of industry.”

“It needs to be close to unanimous support without a lot of opposition. I’ve said that all along,” Gibbons added.

When asked about criticisms of various of his budget proposals, Gibbons acknowledged them but added, “The Democrats have not come forward with plans.  We have not seen their plan to solve this budget problem.”

When asked about omitting Race to Top and water in the special session, Gibbons echoed what he said this morning on the Nevada News Bureau‘s blogger conference call:  “Both are critical. Both will be in the special session.  We left them off because we felt the call of the special session ought to be first, the budget. We fully intend to amend the call; we can bring that in. That is our plan.”

When asked about the contentious tone of the public dialogue between he and Senator Raggio, Gibbons said, “I am very surprised that Raggio would take that attitude, that tactic at this point.”

When asked about his own counter-attacks on Raggio, Gibbons said, “Well, I’m going to do that, yes, if that is the way he is going to be.”

“During our budget talks, our meetings, we invited Raggio and others,” Gibbons added. We briefed them time and time again; we have listened to their ideas.  But Raggio never showed up most of the time to a lot those meetings.”

At the end of the show, Gibbons told Shad, “I have a brand new veto stamp.”

Horsford Calls Gibbons “Mean-Spirited”

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:59 pm February 16th, 2010

Anjeanette Damon at the RGJ has the scoop:

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, angrily reacted to Gov. Jim Gibbons’ final list of proposed budget solutions, calling him mean-spirited for increasing cuts to primary and secondary education by $35 million.

Gibbons’ new cuts propose extending furloughs for state workers by two hours a month. He also proposed cutting funding to kindergarten through 12th grade education by an additional 1.75 percent to “maintain equity” with state workers. But that’s in addition to the 10 percent he already proposed cutting.

In the meantime, Horsford said Gibbons has rejected some proposals by lawmakers to cut professional contracts by 15 percent. In an interview this afternoon, Horsford nearly shouted in anger over that rejection.

“That’s just too complicated? You can’t implement that? Yes, you can!” Horsford said, nearly shouting in anger. “When you are taking the mentally ill and the fragile elderly people and the children and you’re harming their life and safety, you can damn well cut professional cuts by 15 percent and renegotiate leases.

“This governor is mean-spirited and continues to put education last instead of first.”

Horsford also said that the $50 million increase in mining taxes isn’t enough, but wouldn’t say what a fair sum would be.

Gibbons Unveils Plan for State Budget Cuts

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:47 am February 16th, 2010

From the governor’s office a few minutes ago (PDFs of all docs provided below):

GOVERNOR PRESENTS PLAN TO REDUCE SPENDING

Governor Gibbons: “Difficult reductions, but no new taxes

Carson City – Governor Jim Gibbons today unveiled his plan to reduce state spending by nearly $900-million dollars, while at the same time avoiding higher taxes for Nevadans. “Our citizens are already struggling during this economic crisis, “Gibbons said, “I intend to lead Nevada out of this recession with responsible government spending and without raising taxes.”

Governor Gibbons, his senior staff, legislators and legislative staff have been meeting for the last several weeks seeking agreement on ways to reduce state spending. Under the Nevada Constitution, the state must operate with a balanced budget. Because of revenue shortfalls, Nevada must reduce its spending by about $890-million.

Governor Gibbons today announced his plans to reduce state government spending, while at the same time providing vital and core government services and continuing to fund safety-net programs for our most vulnerable citizens. “As I said in my State of the State Address, there are no easy answers,” Gibbons said, “These last few weeks, coming up with these recommendations, have been some of my most difficult times as your Governor, but Nevada must do what hundreds of thousands of you are already doing. Nevada state government must reduce spending.”

2010-02-16_SpecialSessionProclamation

PR-2010-02-16_fiscal_solution_notes

PR-2010-02-16_09-11_Biennium_Shortfall

New Ideas for Revenue, Cuts from the Governor’s Office

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:48 pm February 15th, 2010

RalstonFlash email that hit the Inbox at 3:02 today:

Collecting sales tax from Internet, 4-day work week on special session agenda

That’s the word from the governor’s office, which reportedly is considering a couple dozen items but only has finalized six so far. Spokeman Dan Burns tells me they include a move to collect sales tax on Internet sales from Nevada vendors — now if you buy online, there is no sales tax.

Burns derided my notion that this is a tax increase; rather it is collecting taxes that have gone uncollected, which is unfair to those who buy in the store, he told me. I hope nobody else calls this a tax increase; that would be an unfair shot at the governor of Muthian proportions.

Other items:

1. Four-day work week, 10 hours a day. Furlough days also will cost 10 hours of pay.

2. Allowing counties and cities to shift monies from capital/reserve funds

3. The so-called hold harmless clause for schools — state would only pay for number of students, even if less than previous year

The rest is still being discussed, including water.

And remember, even after the proclamation is released Tuesday, it can be amended until end of session.

(Hat tip to KRNV’s Vickie Campbell)

Update (5:42 p.m.): Sebelius has some background and commentary worth looking over.

State Budget Town Halls

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:25 pm February 13th, 2010

We are live Tweeting the two state budget town hall meetings.  To follow and catch up on this morning’s Tweets, follow @NVNewsBureau.com.  Phillip Moyer, our intern, is Tweeting from Reno using the hashtag #renoth.  I’m Tweeting in Vegas using #lvth.

Latest Cuts From Governor’s Office

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:31 pm February 12th, 2010

Ralston just posted a spreadsheet from the statehouse showing how Team Gibbons gets to within $237M of the target cuts.  IF all cuts were accepted, but (Ralston says) the Dems don’t like about $160M of ‘em so that really leaves $397M to go.

Gibbons Seeks Bigger Budget Cutting Scenarios from State Agencies, Senator Coffin Says Premature

By Sean Whaley | 2:11 pm December 15th, 2009
CARSON CITY – In a sign that the Gibbons administration is concerned Nevada’s fiscal crisis may worsen further before it gets better, a memo to state agency officials sent out today seeks even tougher budget cutting scenarios than those outlined earlier this month.

The memo from state Budget Director Andrew Clinger asks state agencies to, “determine proposed budget reserves in the amount of 6 percent, 8 percent and 10 percent for FY 2010 and FY 2011 and submit them to the Budget Office by the close of business on Tuesday, January 5, 2010.”

Gov. Jim Gibbons has already asked for budget cutting scenarios of 1.4 percent and 3 percent from his agency chiefs. Those plans are due today and are being sought because general fund tax revenues so far this year are $53 million below estimates.

In addition, the state Medicaid budget is expected to see a deficit of $55 million by the end of the two-year budget on June 30, 2011, due to unexpected caseload growth.

Ben Kieckhefer, a spokesman for Department of Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden, said the agency will provide Gibbons with the requested budget reduction plans, but that, “we’re not talking about any easy scenarios.”

As an example, a 10 percent cut in fiscal year 2011 for the agency would equate to just over $102 million, or nearly the equivalent of the entire general fund budget of both the Health Division and the Welfare Division, he said.

The agency will follow protocol and submit the requests by the deadline. The information will remain confidential until the governor decides what to do with it, he said.

“We’re talking entirely new levels of cutting,” Kieckhefer said.

Gibbons is analyzing both tax revenues and expenditures to determine what cuts may required to balance the state budget. He is also evaluating whether a special session of the Legislature will be required to implement any cuts. He also wants input from the Economic Forum, a panel of private fiscal experts, to weigh in on the future of the state’s budget revenues.

Sen. Bob Coffin, D-Las Vegas, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, called the request for such levels of budget cuts premature.

“We don’t have any projections,” he said. “Has the Economic Forum met yet? I would want the results before I ask for a remedy because I don’t know how sick I am.”

The new budget cutting scenarios being sought by Clinger assume an effective date of March 1 for the current fiscal year.

“At this time no decision has been made as to whether these budget reserve recommendations will be implemented, however this information will be considered in the decision making process for closing the current projected deficit,” Clinger said.