Posts Tagged ‘fees’

Higher Education Presidents and Regents Criticize Budget Cuts

By Andrew Doughman | 6:53 pm February 3rd, 2011

LAS VEGAS – The presidents of Nevada’s colleges and universities said the governor’s budget cuts would put their institutions on a starvation diet.

They argued that past budget cuts severely slimmed their institutions, meaning additional funding reductions would threaten their core academic mission.

The Board of Regents, which governs the Nevada System of Higher Education, met in Las Vegas with the presidents today to discuss Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget. That budget cuts higher education by 17.7 percent or $162 million.

The presidents said again and again that they will have to charge students more in tuition and fees, eliminate degree programs, curtail course offerings, restrict access and fire professors and staff.

Neal Smatresk, president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said that he sees two paths forward given the magnitude of the cuts:

“Ask yourself: Does UNLV or UNR [University of Nevada, Reno] become a degree mill and dramatically reduce quality or do we become very small, very expensive and very restrictive?”

The question of access, however, is more severe at community colleges. Access is supposed to be one of the primary reasons community colleges exist.

Michael Richards, president of the College of Southern Nevada, repeated to the regents a story he also told to the Legislature: this past fall, CSN had to turn away more than 5,000 students because they didn’t have room for them.

He said that the college would continue restricting access.

“You would see a major change in the complexion of CSN with these staggering cuts,” he said.

Presidents also said that they’re losing key faculty, especially at research institutions like UNR, UNLV and the Desert Research Institute. Those faculty members are lured away by more competitive offers.

“The faculty are leaving because they’re worried about the future,” said Stephen Wells, president of the Desert Research Institute.

He said that when the state is “chopping off the limbs” of the budget, his top professors become increasingly antsy about their job security.

Those are the people, he said, who the state pays $75,000 in salary and, in return, bring in tens of millions of dollars to the state in research grants.

The presidents repeatedly said that the governor’s 5 percent salary cut and assumed tuition increases of about 10 to 12 percent annually would still leave their institutions with gaping budget holes.

Putting forth solutions, Regents hopped between calling for more revenue to mitigate the cuts and admonishing the presidents to find further efficiencies.

It’s a dance they’ll have to master as they try to sell higher education to the Legislature during the upcoming session. Politically, legislators may be unwilling to levy a new tax to support higher education if the institutions cannot take demonstrable steps to stretch every dollar they have.

Although the presidents and regents collectively had little praise for the governor, they said they appreciate Sandoval’s plan to let the universities retain more of their tuition dollars as well as allow them to shift funds around their institutions.

Along with the governor’s proposed 5 percent salary reductions, Sandoval has supported differentiated tuition. In short, that means some students would pay more for certain degree programs. It means paying more for an engineering degree than an English degree since an engineer is likely to make more money in the future.

The regents also asked Chancellor Dan Klaich, who oversees the state’s college and universities, to coordinate tactical program closures. That way UNR and UNLV would not offer duplicate degree programs.

One source of revenue that won’t be available is the federal stimulus dollars that had helped buoy the higher education budget. The money is almost gone, and there’s no round two.

Tax increases are also off the table, for now. Sandoval has vowed to veto any bill with a tax increase, and legislators have thus far offered no tax plans.

The Legislature convenes Feb. 7 for their 120-day session.

Sandoval Administration Confirms No Fee Increases In Proposed Budget

By Sean Whaley | 2:24 pm December 22nd, 2010

CARSON CITY – There will be no fee increases of any kind in Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval’s budget when it is presented to lawmakers next year, Chief of Staff Heidi Gansert has confirmed.

“Given the state of our economy, the governor-elect has decided there will be no new fees or taxes in the budget,” she said. “We don’t want any obstacles to an economic recovery. We want as much money as possible spent in the private sector.”

Gansert said Sandoval’s staff is working with Budget Director Andrew Clinger to go through the budget prepared by outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons in-depth to ensure any fee increases included in the plan are eliminated.

Gansert was asked to comment about the potential of fee increases in Sandoval’s budget after Robin Reedy, chief of staff to Gibbons, said a case could be made to seek fee increases for services provided by the state that are not fully covered by current assessments.

Reedy talked about the potential for fee increases in Sandoval’s budget in an interview Tuesday on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

Reedy said she believes the next two-year budget can be balanced without new taxes, but added: “A lot of people confuse taxes and fees. And I am not one to say, and this is where the governor (Gibbons) and I do tend to disagree and we have our debates, is a fee is not a tax. If a fee is for a service that is basically helping a segment of either society or business, capitalism means they should pay that cost of doing business.

“So there are fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles and various other areas that deal with either car sales or other areas that are business, that what they pay in fees do not compensate what we pay in salaries and the cost of doing business,” Reedy said. “The government should not be subsidizing any part of the economy.”

Reedy said it will be up to Sandoval and his administration, however, to determine whether to include fee increases in the budget.

But Gansert made it clear that Sandoval’s budget won’t include fee increases.

“We’ve ruled out new fees and taxes,” she said.

Sandoval said in an interview earlier this year that a major focus of his administration will be on job creation to get Nevada’s economy on track, and that any tax or fee increases in his budget would only harm that effort.

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

Sandoval’s position is at odds with some lawmakers who have suggested tax increases will be needed to balance the state budget.

The National Conference of State Legislatures recently reported that Nevada will have the largest percentage general fund budget gap of any state in both fiscal year 2012 and 2013.

The Nevada Economic Forum projected the state general fund would see $5.3 billion in revenues in the coming two years, well below current spending levels because of the loss of federal stimulus funds and temporary taxes that will expire on June 30, 2011.

Sandoval said after the projection was made Dec. 1 that the revenue level would require agencies to cut $1.2 billion from already reduced budgets submitted this fall to Gibbons.

Audio clips:

Gibbons Chief of Staff Robin Reedy says she believes fees should cover the entire cost of some state services:

122210Reedy1 :29 of doing business.”

Reedy says government should not be subsidizing any part of the economy:

122210Reedy2 :09 of the economy.”

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.”

Nevada Treasurer’s Office Announces Fee Reduction For College Savings Program

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:26 pm September 28th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall announced today that one of the major college savings plans programs administered by her office has agreed to cut its fees to account owners by more than 40 percent.

The Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan, one of the state’s direct-sold plans, is slicing its fees for age-based options from 44 basis points (0.44 percent) to 25 basis points (0.25 percent) starting Oct. 15. Expenses on the plan’s 19 other individual portfolios are also being reduced.  The Vanguard 529 Plan is now one of the lowest priced college savings plans available.

The fee reduction is expected to result in a savings to The Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan account owners of about $8.5 million annually.

“This is great news for families working hard to save for their children’s future college education costs, as the significant lowering of fees for Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan account owners will assist families in saving for a better tomorrow for their children,” Marshall said.

It is the fourth college savings plan fee reduction announced by the Treasurer’s Office in the past 18 months.

Vanguard Chairman and CEO Bill McNabb said: “Low costs are among the largest contributors to a portfolio’s long-term success. We’re pleased to help lower costs for Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan investors.”

The Vanguard 529 College Savings Plan has assets of over $4.5 billion dollars, with some 170,000 account owners nationwide, including 2,300 Nevada families.

Marnell Threatens to Sue State?

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:02 am March 2nd, 2010

Very interesting indeed.

Ralston just posted and Tweeted a threat-to-sue letter from M Resort attorney Chris Kaempfer to the Clean Water Coalition (and cc’ing Buckley and Horsford among others).

Background:  A bunch of gaming companies including the M Resort contributed to a $62M fund of water connection fees (“Clean Water Coalition”) to be used for a project that is now on hold.  The M is apparently not too happy that the $700K+ it contributed is now going toward hole-patching in the state budget via measures passed during the legislative special session last week.

Other gamers who contributed major sums (also via @RalstonFlash):

Fontainebleu — $1.8 million

Venetian — $1.2 million

Hard Rock — $892K

Caesars — $860k

Planet Hollywood — $806K

Southpoint — $395kK

Encore — $647K

City Center — $362K

Palazzo — $31K

The letter says that the M Resort does not “consent, and will not accept, that those funds can be used for any other purpose than for the specific purpose for which they were intended” and that the purpose of the letter “is to put all on notice that if these monies are in fact used for any other purpose…our client will be constrained to file appropriate action to have those fees returned…”

Ralston has the letter posted.

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.

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.

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.

Horsford Weighs In on Budget Issues

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:49 am February 24th, 2010

Got a chance to chat with Senate Majority Leader Stephen Horsford post-adjournment last night along with other journalists.  Some of his comments were a repetition of things said in recent weeks.  Here are a few snippets and quotes that were/are interesting and/or new:

– Horsford acknowledged that much of yesterday’s testimony was a “retreading” of what was heard at the Las Vegas and Reno Town Hall meetings as well as at the IFC and Ways and Means meetings last week.  Said info bears repeating so all 63 legislators are fully informed and involved.

– He questioned why Race to Top not included in the governor’s original proclamation since it means $150M in federal funds to education.

– Said “we do not want to be here one extra day” (answering question about likely length of session).

– Said “I want to give credit where credit is due. The governor has restored $27 million in “worst of the worst” cuts.  But there is $30 to 40 million more we think should be added back in.”

– When asked (by Sebelius) if InsureNet has been ruled out (as has been rumored):  “Yes, I think that is a fair assessment.  The two problems with InsureNet are having cameras all over the state, so, a “Big Brother” type thing, that Nevadans will not like…and the fact that this company has no agreement with any other state.  Why should Nevada be a guinea pig on a risky scheme?”

– Ditto question on mining taxes.  Horsford said there are constitutional and legal issues with mining taxes and/or plan for deduction reductions.  Said they are looking at raising existing fees, or adding new fees, that would amount to “more than we would have with the deductions proposal.”

– Said the biggest breakthrough is the governor’s agreement to scale back on education cuts.

– Criticized the governor’s proposal to raise quarterly payments (from $25 to $75) for the Nevada Check-up program and/or to raise fees on veterans.  Referenced governor Gibbons’ oft repeated statements that he will go along with tax/fee increases IF the industries in question agreed to them, and then said: “My constituents were not asked if THEY agreed to increases in fees.”