Posts Tagged ‘Gov. Brian Sandoval’

Sandoval Asks For Assessment Of School Security

By Sean Whaley | 10:39 am December 20th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today said he wants an assessment of how Nevada’s public schools are doing in regards to security following the horrific shooting deaths a week ago at a Connecticut elementary school.

Sandoval made the request as chairman of the state Homeland Security Commission, which met today by teleconference. A presentation will be prepared for the next meeting of the commission.

“I think it would be worthwhile perhaps if we had an item on the agenda where we could get some type of presentation of where our state stands in terms of school security,” he said. “I’m interested in terms of what is best practices and if there are things we need to recommend or do.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“I also am curious in terms of fencing and single points of entry and buzzing in and out,” Sandoval said. “Just how we’re doing with the newer schools and the older schools. Perhaps it might be appropriate to have a representative from the two largest school districts.”

Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza forced his way into the elementary school, where he killed 26 adults and children before taking his own life.

Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley said the review could include a discussion of a proposed “campus carry” bill being sought by Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas. The measure, first reported on by the Nevada News Bureau, would allow those with concealed weapons permits to carry their weapons on the campuses of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Concealed weapons are now prohibited on the campuses except for rare exceptions.

A similar bill proposed by former state Sen. John Lee in the 2011 session was the focus of intense debate but did not pass.

Haley said he opposed the bill in 2011 as president of the state Sheriffs and Chiefs Association. The higher education system also opposed the bill.

Haley said there should be a discussion about what the position of the commission should be in regards to the proposed law.

“As we all know, even though we are at a university with young men and women, we also have day care centers in those universities, we also have high school students meeting there for college-level training, and we have kids moving in and out of those facilities on a regular basis,” he said.

Adam Garcia, director of University Police Services at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he remains opposed to the bill as he did in 2011.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says he wants a report on the status of Nevada school security efforts:

122012Sandoval1 :08 of school security.”

Sandoval says he wants to know if Nevada schools are following best practices:

122012Sandoval2 :15 largest school districts.”

Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley says there should also be a discussion of a proposed “campus carry” bill:

122012Haley :20 a regular basis.”

 

 

Sandoval Appoints Elaine Wynn To State School Board

By Sean Whaley | 3:56 pm December 17th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today announced he has appointed Elaine Wynn to the state Board of Education, effective January 8, 2013.

“Elaine has long been a vocal advocate for improving the delivery of education to our state’s children,” Sandoval said. “From her service to our state as co-chair of the Education Reform Blue Ribbon Task Force to her continued work with students in the greater Las Vegas area, Elaine is a dedicated champion for education and I am pleased she has agreed to serve in this manner.”

Elaine Wynn.

Wynn, director of Wynn Resorts since 2000, was appointed by then-Gov. Jim Gibbons as co-chair of the Education Reform Blue Ribbon Task Force in 2010. The task force was created to submit a state application for the federal Race to the Top competition and make education reform recommendations to the state Legislature. Nevada did not ultimately receive funding in the competition.

Wynn is the founding chairwoman of Communities In Schools of Nevada, the current chairwoman of the national board of Communities In Schools, a trustee of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a board member of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and a board member of the Library of Congress Trust Fund.

Born and raised in New York City, Wynn graduated from George Washington University in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She resided in Washington, DC, before moving to Las Vegas in 1967.

The makeup of the Nevada State Board of Education was changed by the 2011 Legislature as part of Sandoval’s education reform package. Until now it has been a 10-member board elected from districts around the state.

The new board as established in Senate Bill 197, beginning next year, has four elected members, one from each of the state’s congressional districts. It also has one member appointed by Sandoval and one member each selected by the Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker. There will also be four non-voting members appointed by the governor representing different public education interests.

Sandoval and lawmakers agreed to a number of education reforms in the 2011 session, including a new teacher evaluation process to ensure the best educators remain in the classroom.

 

Gov. Sandoval Releases Expanded Budget Data

By Sean Whaley | 5:11 pm December 14th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today released budget data that had been sought by state lawmakers after a weeks-long disagreement over whether the information was public.

The state Budget Office posted the “items for special consideration” data on its website at noon. The items are requests made to Sandoval by state agencies for spending over and above their base-budget submissions. The base budget data was released by the Sandoval administration in October.

Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Included in the requests is a proposal to expand the Medicaid program to a new group of Nevada residents as provided for under the Affordable Care Act. As first reported by The Associated Press, Sandoval announced on Tuesday that he will propose expanding the program to provide health care coverage to 87,000 Nevadans, the cost of which will initially be paid for by the federal government. The 2013 Legislature will consider the recommendation.

Sandoval initially did not provide the additional budget information to the Legislature when it was expected on Oct. 15.

The decision prompted members of the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee in late October to question state Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp about the decision.

Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Rick Combs told lawmakers that the information has been provided to lawmakers by past governors.

Mohlenkamp said the base budget data provided to the Legislature met the requirement of the state law on budget disclosure and Sandoval also defended the decision.

“There is no violation of law,” Sandoval said in October. “We’re perfectly consistent and in accordance with Nevada state law.”

The budget dispute was first reported by the Nevada News Bureau. The Las Vegas Sun also reported on the impasse earlier this month, which led to several calls in the media and by others for Sandoval to release the data.

Sandoval then announced last week he would release the budget data this week, which happened today.

Given the limited amount of state tax revenues, many of the special consideration items are not likely to see funding in Sandoval’s 2013-15 budget, which will be released next month ahead of the start of the Feb. 4 legislative session.

Many of the requests are for new positions. A total of just over 518 positions are in the agency wish lists for the first fiscal year, with about another 100 proposed to be added in the second year.

But there are other types of requests, such as the $20 million being sought from the general fund by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to provide more money for the Catalyst Fund, which will be used to attract new businesses to the state. The Legislature created the fund in 2011 and appropriated $10 million for its operation in the current budget.

The total requests from the general fund by the various agencies total $419 million.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute congratulated Sandoval on releasing the budget information, but said the requests should be ignored because they are meaningless.

“That’s because they assume that every government agency should be given a substantial funding increase through costs – including pay increases – that automatically roll up,” said NPRI Deputy Policy Director Geoffrey Lawrence. “This outdated and broken budgeting process, commonly referred to as ‘baseline budgeting,’ failed to exact any accountability over the use of public resources.”

The adoption by the 2011 Legislature of a new process, called performance-based budgeting, which was advocated by NPRI, among others, will ensure the state’s highest priorities are funded, he said.

 

Medical Association Applauds Sandoval Medicaid Decision

By Sean Whaley | 11:11 am December 13th, 2012

CARSON CITYNevada State Medical Association President Florence Jameson said today that Gov. Brian Sandoval made a “politically courageous and correct” policy decision to expand the Nevada Medicaid program.

The decision will ensure that there will not be a new class of uninsured Nevadans when the federal health coverage changes are implemented in January 2014, said Jameson, a physician.

This decision assures coverage for low income uninsured Nevadans who would not be eligible for the new health insurance products provided through the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange. While controversial, the principal achievement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is the development of a complex scheme for providing health care coverage for most Americans, the announcement said.

The association recommended in September that Sandoval opt for the expansion, but Nevada physicians remain concerned that it does not improve the current Medicaid program, which is significantly underfunded, Jameson said.

The association “urges Governor Sandoval and the state Legislature to address the access to care needs of the patients who are, and will continue to be, covered by the current Medicaid program,” she said.

This medical care access issue is one reason the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a libertarian think tank, has criticized the decision.

NPRI Deputy Policy Director Geoffrey Lawrence said that because the Medicaid program systematically under-reimburses health-care providers, many are not taking new patients. This means current Medicaid enrollees – by definition the most vulnerable populations – will now be competing with healthy adults for fewer and fewer doctors. Sandoval’s decision will exacerbate the doctor shortages already faced by the children and the disabled who use Medicaid, he said.

“All this said, one must applaud the governor’s decision to finally institute consumer co-pays and thus introduce some real-world price sensitivity into the calculations of Medicaid consumers,” Lawrence said. “The primary reason for the health-care system’s high costs is the government-induced breakdown of the price system.”

Imposing co-pays is a proven way of encouraging individuals to seek only the care they really need, helping to control cost growth, he said.

Another concern cited by NPRI with the expansion is the increasing cost of the Medicaid program to taxpayers.

State Medicaid spending is already growing at an unsustainable pace and will soon displace K-12 education as the state’s largest budget item, Lawrence said. While Congress has pledged that federal taxpayers will cover a majority of costs for the newly eligible population through 2020, that will likely shift more to state taxpayers in later years, he said.

State Senate GOP Leaders Support Medicaid Expansion

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:56 pm December 12th, 2012

CARSON CITY – State Senate Republican leaders today commended GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval’s decision to expand the state Medicaid program as a commitment to the health of all Nevadans and a boost for a critical sector of the state’s economy.

“Ensuring that poor Nevadans have access to primary health care through Medicaid is very simply the right thing to do, both for our citizens and our economy,” said Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson. “It will reduce our rate of uninsured and provide individuals with greater economic security.”

State Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson.

“Nevada’s health care indicators continually trail its neighboring states and regularly rank among the worst in the nation,” said Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno. “Expanding Medicaid to poor childless adults will help address this.”

“Nevada has higher-than-average rates of such things as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and asthma,” he said. “Access to primary health care is critical to both prevention and treatment of these diseases and conditions. Our citizens deserve this.”

Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, said expanding the program will allow Nevada to improve its return on federal tax dollars and ensure that money is reinvested into Nevada’s health care economy, which is in need of a boost.

“Fully implementing health care reform is expected to boost Nevada’s economy by up to $6.2 billion over the next six years,” he said. “Medicaid expansion could also result in the creation of up to 8,600 much-needed jobs in Nevada over that time. With the low state match over this period, that’s a solid return on investment.”

All three Republican Senate leaders said they look forward to working with their colleagues during the 2013 session to approve this expansion, but also believe it’s imperative that Nevada protect its economic future and require a sunset on the expansion should federal reimbursement rates drop below 90 percent for this population.

In addition, Republican Senate leadership supports the governor’s proposal to include a cost-sharing component in Medicaid and plans to pursue that initiative during the 2013 Legislative Session.

Sandoval announced yesterday that he will include 78,000 additional people in Nevada’s Medicaid program as provided for under the federal Affordable Care Act.

“Though I have never liked the Affordable Care Act because of the individual mandate it places on citizens, the increased burden on businesses and concerns about access to health care, the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court,” he said in a statement. “As such, I am forced to accept it as today’s reality and I have decided to expand Nevada’s Medicaid coverage.

“My fiscal year 2014-2015 budget will provide 78,000 additional Nevadans with health insurance coverage through Medicaid, which is estimated to save the state general fund approximately $17 million dollars in mental health savings,” Sandoval said. “My executive budget will also help Nevada businesses cope with the burden placed on them by decreasing the modified business tax. My decision to opt-in assists the neediest Nevadans and helps some avoid paying a health-care tax penalty. As part of my proposal, I will also call upon the Legislature to pass Medicaid patient responsibility cost-sharing measures.”

Federal funding will pay for 100 percent of the Medicaid expansion for the first three calendar years beginning in 2014, with the state required to pick up a percentage of the cost beginning in 2017. The first year state cost is 5 percent, in 2018 the state cost is 6 percent, in 2019 the state cost is 7 percent, and in 2020, the state cost is 10 percent.

The expansion in Nevada would mostly cover childless adults who are not covered by the state program now. The other expansion will come from parent caretakers of children who are covered at 75 percent of poverty now, according to Mike Willden, director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, who spoke on the subject earlier this year.

Willden said there are also administrative costs to the state that are not fully covered by the expansion but instead are shared between the federal government and the state at a 50-50 match. They include information technology costs and the cost to hire new eligibility workers, for example, he said.

 

Democrats Call On Sandoval To Release Budget Data

By Sean Whaley | 3:46 pm December 5th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The Nevada State Democratic Party today said Gov. Brian Sandoval should immediately disclose state agency budget requests to the Legislature and public.

Some state lawmakers expressed concern at an Interim Finance Committee meeting in October that the Sandoval administration had not provided them with information about state agency requests over and above their base budget requests, known as “items for special consideration.”

“Governor Sandoval’s refusal to disclose his administration’s budget requests is deeply disturbing and likely violates Nevada law,” the statement says. “The governor is not entitled to pick and choose which laws he wants to follow. Governor Sandoval should immediately disclose his budget requests, as required by the law, so Nevadans know how he wants to spend their tax dollars.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The items of special consideration include data on expanding Medicaid to a new group of eligible Nevada residents as a result of the federal Affordable Care Act.

The story about the failure to provide the budget information was first reported by the Nevada News Bureau. Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, also expressed concerns about the failure by Sandoval’s budget office to provide the information.

Kieckhefer was particularly concerned about the Medicaid data, saying that if Sandoval decides not to propose expanding Medicaid to the new eligible population, then the budget data collected to provide background on this item of special consideration might never be provided to lawmakers or the public. Kieckhefer said he would have a problem if that information was never made public.

Sandoval is not expected to announce his decision on expanding Medicaid until his State of the State address in January.

Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Rick Combs said today he again asked the Sandoval administration for the budget information last week.

In an email, he said in part: “I was told that they were hoping to have a response for me last week. I haven’t heard anything from them about it since. We have not received access to the Items for Special Consideration, so we are unable to review it or provide it to the public.

“The (LCB) Legal Division has looked into it and believes that the law requires the Governor’s Office to provide to us and make available for the public the requests that agencies made for the upcoming biennium,” Combs said. “We believe it was the intent that the Legislature and the public have access to what the agencies requested rather than only a portion of what the agencies requested.”

The information has been provided to lawmakers by past governors.

In response to questions from the NNB, Sandoval said in October he had complied with the state laws requiring transmittal of the budget information to lawmakers.

“The agency requests have been presented to the Legislature in accordance with the law,” he said at the time. “I don’t see any problems.”

Sandoval said it was unfair for anyone to suggest his administration failed to follow state law in the release of the budget data without providing any specifics about the alleged violation.

“There is no violation of law,” he said. “We’re perfectly consistent and in accordance with Nevada state law.”

State Senate GOP Leadership Endorses Drivers’ Licenses For Deferred Action Program

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:08 pm November 30th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada’s state  Senate Republican leadership today expressed support for a state policy that makes thousands of young immigrants living in Nevada eligible for a state-issued driver’s license or ID.

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, with the support of Gov. Brian Sandoval, announced this week that its policy would be to honor the employment authorization card granted to successful applicants under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Deferred Action program.

Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, said he supports the DMV policy and hopes those eligible will take advantage of this opportunity.

State Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson.

“These young men and women are living, working and attending school here in Nevada, and are doing everything in their power to improve their lives and the lives of their families,” Roberson said. “A driver’s license from the state of Nevada will aid in their ability to commute to and from work and school; will afford a sense of self-sufficiency; and will provide greater opportunities for thousands of Nevada families.”

Deferred Action, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a directive from the secretary of the DHS that grants temporary permission to stay in the U.S. to certain undocumented young people. Individuals who receive deferred action may apply for and obtain employment authorization. It is estimated that more than 20,000 young immigrants could benefit from this program in Nevada.

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, also applauded the policy: “This DMV policy allowing young immigrants living in our communities to obtain driver’s licenses will benefit not only the young people and families eligible for deferred action, but will also help strengthen Nevada’s education system and our economy at large.”

Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, commented on the safety aspects of the policy: “In order to secure a driver’s license, an individual must obtain the proper knowledge and skill level to pass a test to ensure they can safely drive on the streets. This policy will not only provide greater opportunity for so many young people in Nevada, it will also make our streets safer by ensuring training for those who may otherwise be driving without a license or adequate preparation.”

The Las Vegas Sun reported the drivers’ license policy earlier this week.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on June 15 announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria, would be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.

Napolitano said the deferred action program will offer the young immigrants two-year work permits and not deport them as a temporary measure until the country’s immigration policies could be changed with the adoption of the DREAM Act.

 

Nevada Budget Likely To See Fewer Impacts From “Fiscal Cliff”

By Sean Whaley | 11:57 am November 20th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The impacts of the so-called “fiscal cliff” on Nevada’s state budget would likely be less significant than for many other states because of our lower dependence on federal spending, according to an analysis by the Pew Center on the States.

The impact on state tax revenues do not apply because Nevada does not have a personal or corporate income tax, according to the report The Impact of the Fiscal Cliff on the States. The report examines the potential effects on each of the states.

Analysis includes Nevada-specific numbers

On the federal spending cut side of the equation, Nevada’s share of federal grants subject to sequester, looked at as a percentage of state revenue, is slightly higher at 6.7 percent than the national average of 6.6 percent, and so could mean financial impacts.

But Nevada ranks well below the national average for federal spending on procurement, salaries and wages as a percentage of the state’s gross domestic product at 3 percent compared to the national average of 5.3 percent.

Nevada is also below the federal average for federal defense spending on procurement, salaries and wages as a percentage of the state GDP at 1.8 percent compared to the national average of 3.5 percent.

Federal non-defense spending on procurement, salaries and wages as a percentage of state GDP is 1.2 percent in Nevada compared to 1.8 percent nationally.

These numbers cited in the Pew report are all based on 2010 information.

And federal non-defense workforce as a percentage of total employment in the state is 0.9 percent in Nevada compared to 1 percent nationally, based on 2012 data.

But the Pew analysis notes: “The general economic slowdown that could result if the full fiscal cliff were allowed to take effect would likely overwhelm any of the separate impacts.”

Nevada officials are looking at the issue as one of several budget variables

The report, released Nov. 15, comes as Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval is finalizing his 2013-15 state spending plan, which will take effect on July 1, 2013.

The impact of the federal fiscal cliff is just one more variable that could affect Nevada’s general fund budget. Another is expanding Medicaid to a new group of eligible state residents. Sandoval has not yet announced his decision on whether to support the expansion, which would be paid for nearly entirely with federal funds in the first few years.

“The Budget Division is currently evaluating the impacts of sequestration on federal funding to the state of Nevada,” said Director Jeff Mohlenkamp in a statement. “Specifically, we are researching reductions that would have direct impact on services to citizens. Some federal reductions may eliminate the resources to provide services but not eliminate requirements to maintain service levels. The potential for this type of unfunded mandate is of particular interest to the Budget Division as we prepare the budget for FY 2013 – 2015.

“There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding other elements of the ‘fiscal cliff,’ ” he added. “ We understand the possible implications on the larger economy. At this point, we cannot speculate further as most of the critical decisions have not been made.”

The Pew study shows some states more dependent on federal spending

The Pew report on the fiscal cliff says that federal grants to the states constitute about one-third of total state revenues, and federal spending affects states’ economic activity and thus their amount of tax revenues.

Roughly 18 percent of federal grant dollars flowing to the states would be subject to the fiscal year 2013 across-the-board cuts under the sequester, according to the Federal Funds Information for States, including funding for education programs, nutrition for low-income women and children, public housing, and other programs.

Because states differ in the type and amount of federal grants they receive, their exposure to the grant cuts would vary. In all, the federal grants subject to sequester make up more than 10 percent of South Dakota’s revenue, compared with less than 5 percent of Delaware’s revenue.

Federal spending on defense accounts for more than 3.5 percent of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of the states, but there is wide variation across the states. Federal defense spending makes up almost 15 percent of Hawaii’s GDP, compared with just 1 percent of state GDP in Oregon.

The fiscal cliff, a series of expiring federal tax provisions and scheduled spending cuts, are set to take effect in January unless Congress reaches agreement on a deficit-reduction plan.

Scheduled tax changes account for roughly four-fifths – or $393 billion – of the total amount of the fiscal cliff. The scheduled spending cuts account for $98 billion – or about one-fifth – of the federal budget impact of the fiscal cliff. Over half of this amount is due to sequestration required under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

“To understand the full cost and benefits of proposals to address the fiscal cliff, policy makers need to know how federal and state policies are linked,” said Pew Project Director Anne Stauffer. “The implications for states should be part of the discussion so that problems are not simply shifted from one level of government to another.”

If the full force of the fiscal cliff is realized, the federal deficit would be reduced by $491 billion, the Pew Center analysis says. However, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that the entirety of the fiscal cliff would be a major driver of a general economic slowdown in 2013. Such an outcome would likely negate the more specific, separate impacts described in the analysis.

“Given the uncertainty about whether any or all of the policies in the fiscal cliff will be addressed temporarily or permanently, it is important to understand that the effects of the different components will vary across states,” Stauffer said.

 

Nevada’s Public Employee Retirement Plan Saw Improvement In 2012

By Sean Whaley | 3:22 pm November 19th, 2012

CARSON CITY – The long-term unfunded liability of Nevada’s public employee retirement plan improved slightly in fiscal year 2012, up to 71 percent fully funded from 70.2 percent in the previous year, a state official said today.

The plan saw the modest improvement even though the return on investment for the fiscal year was only 2.9 percent. The small gain came after a record 21 percent investment gain in 2011.

The 2012 return was still better than the median gain of 1.15 percent for public pension plans in fiscal year 2012 reported earlier this year by Wilshire Associates.

Dana Bilyeu, executive officer of the Public Employees’ Retirement System, said the plan, which covers nearly all of Nevada’s local and state public employees, had assets of $27.4 billion as of June 30, 2012, up from $25.8 billion in 2011.

PERS Executive Officer Dana Bilyeu.

The unfunded liability dollar value increased as well, however, to $11.2 billion from $11 billion.

The numbers and percentages reflect the combined plans for regular public employees and police and fire fighters.

At its high point in 2000 Nevada’s public employee retirement plan was 85 percent funded.

The long-term unfunded liabilities of the PERS plan, and of public employee pension plans nationwide, are generating concern from policy makers, although Nevada’s plan is considered to be well managed and in better fiscal shape than many others around the country.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has advocated for a change to the pension plan for future workers from a defined benefit to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. Defined contribution plans eliminate any unfunded fiscal liability for states. The 2011 Legislature took no action on the issue but it is expected to resurface in 2013.

The financial health of Nevada’s public employee pension plan was found to be cause for serious concern because it was only 70 percent funded as of fiscal year 2010, the Pew Center on the States said in June. The funding ratio in Nevada is below the 80 percent benchmark that fiscal experts recommend for a sustainable program.

In response to the report, Bilyeu said in June the heavy reliance by Pew on the funding ratio for the state rankings presents an incomplete picture.

Nevada’s contribution rates, which will increase again in the next two-year budget, are based on an analysis by an independent actuary, and are fully funded each year, she said.

PERS manages retirement benefits for about 100,000 active government workers and more than 40,000 retirees.

Sandoval Announces Education Grant Agreement

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:29 pm November 2nd, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval announced today that the Clark County School District’s  $40 million Race to the Top grant application will move forward with the support of the Clark County Education Association.

“I was informed this morning that the Clark County School District and the Clark County Education Association have signed the Race to the Top letter,” Sandoval said in a statement. “I am pleased that by working together, leaders of education in Clark County were able to agree to get this done for our children. I look forward to continuing to work with all parties to improve education in our state.”

Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight Jones said: “The district is pleased that this issue has been resolved and that we were able to move forward today with our application for the Race to the Top grant.

Clark County School District Superintendent Dwight Jones.

“If awarded to the Clark County School District, this grant will provide individualized instruction that will drastically improve the educational experience for our students,” he said. “The district welcomed suggestions from the Clark County Education Association regarding the application and remains committed to competing for these much-needed funds to help increase achievement for our children. Thank you to Governor Sandoval for brokering this agreement.”

CCEA President Ruben Murillo said: “CCEA is pleased to join Governor Sandoval and the school district in the application for the Race to the Top funds. Teachers look forward to a successful partnership in ensuring our students’ needs are met.”

Earlier this week Sandoval said he was disappointed that the grant would not move forward after the association declined to sign off on the application. The deadline was today to submit the grant request to the U.S. Department of Education.

Las Vegas news media reported Tuesday that the district’s application for a share of the $400 million in Race to the Top funds was derailed by the lack of support from the union, which has been at odds with the district over pay and benefits.

Sandoval Disappointed At Teachers Union For Blocking Grant Request

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:18 pm October 31st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he is disappointed by the leadership of the Clark County Education Association for blocking a $40 million school district application for federal Race to the Top funds.

“The Race to the Top federal grant can be used to hire additional teachers and provide much-needed support to some of our most at-risk students,” Sandoval said in a statement. “I am particularly supportive of the district’s plan to use technology and early-intervention strategies to help the district’s growing number of English language learners catch up to their peers faster.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Sandoval said he had a discussion with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan today, and was advised that the deadline for Race to the Top grant applications has been extended until Friday.

“It is important we take advantage of every opportunity to provide much-needed relief to our schools and our children and I urge the Clark County Education Association to reconsider its position and work with the School District on Clark County’s application,” he said. “If necessary, I will personally meet with CCEA and the school district to get this done for our children.”

Las Vegas news media, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reported Tuesday that the Clark County School District’s application for a share of the $400 million in Race to the Top funds was derailed by the lack of support from the union, which has been at odds with the district over pay and benefits.

 

Gov. Sandoval Appoints New Business Agency Director

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 1:44 pm October 29th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today announced he has appointed Bruce Breslow as director of the Department of Business and Industry, effective November 12. Breslow is currently Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Bruce’s people-first approach to problem solving has helped pioneer a new era for customer service at the DMV,” Sandoval said. “His innovative thinking has led to the development of mobile applications, the placement of DMV self service kiosks at grocery stores throughout the state and a reduction in wait times for customers at the DMV. I am confident that Bruce’s leadership and customer-first mentality will be an invaluable asset to B&I.”

DMV chief Bruce Breslow. / Nevada News Bureau.

Breslow takes over the agency from Terry Johnson, who Sandoval last week named to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

The Department of Business and Industry is comprised of fourteen regulatory agencies, 635 employees and a combined budget of $119 million. A multitude of industries are regulated by the department, including insurance, transportation, financial institutions, and boxing and mixed martial arts, among others.

Sandoval appointed Breslow to head up the DMV in January 2011. He formerly served as the executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects and as commissioner and administrative law judge for the Transportation Services Agency under former Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Troy Dillard has been named interim director at the DMV. A native Nevadan, he was employed with the Nevada Department of Public Safety from 1989 until 2004 when he transferred to the DMV as an administrator. In 2011, Dillard was appointed to the position of deputy director with the DMV.

Fifty-Eight New Citizens Sworn In For Nevada Day

By Sean Whaley | 3:50 pm October 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today participated in a ceremony in the old Assembly chambers in the state Capitol to swear in 58 new citizens representing countries from Bulgaria to New Zealand.

The new citizens range in age from 18 to 85 and are from 27 different countries.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, right, applauds after 58 new U.S. citizens take the oath of allegiance. / Nevada News Bureau.

It was the 4th annual Nevada Day naturalization ceremony sponsored by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In his remarks, Sandoval talked about Nevada’s admission into the union in 1864 to help ensure President Lincoln would be elected to a second term.

“Lincoln himself said, and I quote: ‘The struggle of today is not altogether for today. It is for a vast future also.’ You, all of you, are now part of that future,” Sandoval said.

“Many rights and privileges come with citizenship, but so do many responsibilities,” he said. “And the greatest responsibility of them all is to see the story through. To contribute to the vast future of our nation.

“I know that each and every one of you are up to that challenge,” Sandoval said.

USCIS Reno Field Director Monica Toro administered the Oath of Allegiance to the new citizens. Peter Barton, administrator of the Nevada Division of Museums and History, also made remarks.

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Audio clip:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the 58 new citizens are now part of America’s future:

102612Sandoval :17 of that future.”

Gov. Sandoval Says He Has Complied With Budget Disclosure Requirements

By Sean Whaley | 1:11 pm October 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today his administration has fully complied with a requirement in state law to provide preliminary state budget data to lawmakers and their staff.

“The agency requests have been presented to the Legislature in accordance with the law,” he said. “I don’t see any problems.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Lawmakers on Thursday questioned state Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp on why some components of the initial agency request budget, known as “items for special consideration,” were not supplied to their fiscal staff as has been past practice. The items are funding requests beyond the agency base-budget requests for the 2013-15 spending plan. Expanding Medicaid to a new population of eligible Nevadans as allowed for under the Affordable Care Act is one such request.

Mohlenkamp said his office does not believe the special consideration items are part of the budget information required to be provided under Nevada Revised Statutes 353.211.

Sandoval said today the issue should not be characterized as one involving the transparency of his office.

“We are still gathering information on the Medicaid question,” he said. “We have not gotten all the instructions that we need from the federal government in order to completely prepare that. So anything that would be presented would not be complete at this time.”

Sandoval said his recommended budget will be made public in a “matter of weeks” and that release should satisfy lawmakers.

The budget is typically presented following the governor’s State of the State address in mid-January.

Sandoval said today it is unfair for anyone to suggest his administration failed to follow state law in the release of the budget data without providing any specifics about the alleged violation.

“There is no violation of law,” he said. “We’re perfectly consistent and in accordance with Nevada state law.”

Lawmakers expressed their concerns at a meeting of the Interim Finance Committee.

Rick Combs, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the additional budget information has been provided to legislative staff historically as specified in state law. It has also been made available to the public after being transmitted  to fiscal staff electronically by the state budget office on Oct. 15.

“The part that is of concern to us there is twofold,” Combs told the committee. “Your staff doesn’t have access to the information. The other concern is that information that is provided to us on Oct. 15 is supposed to be open for public dissemination at that point.”

Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes said Nevada statues, both 353.205 and 353.211, require the information to be provided to legislative fiscal staff. NRS 353.211 says in part that the information to be provided must include: “Each agency’s requested budget for the next 2 fiscal years.”

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said at the meeting it is an ongoing issue that needs to be resolved.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says his administration has complied with state law:

102612Sandoval2 :05 see any problems.”

Sandoval says the Medicaid expansion issue is still not finalized:

102612Sandoval :13 at this time.”

 

Dispute Emerges Between Sandoval, Lawmakers Over Access To Budget Data

By Sean Whaley | 5:23 pm October 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A dispute has emerged between Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Legislature over what information in the initial state agency request budget should be made available to legislative staff and the public.

At a meeting of the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee today, state Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp was asked about what is considered by legislative staff to be a departure from past practice regarding the budget information provided to legislative fiscal staff and the public.

The 2013-15 budget information conveyed to the Legislature on Oct. 15 does not include “items for special consideration” requested by state agencies. These items are budget requests from agencies that Sandoval will consider including in his final spending plan, but that have not yet been approved for inclusion by Sandoval.

Sandoval’s budget won’t be made public until mid-January.

Rick Combs, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said this information has been provided to legislative staff historically as specified in state law. It has also been made available to the public.

LCB Director Rick Combs.

An example of an item of special consideration is the expansion of the Medicaid program to a new group of Nevadans as provided for in the federal Affordable Care Act. Sandoval has not made a decision on whether to expand Medicaid to this new group of Nevada residents.

Because of this apparently new interpretation by Sandoval, the Medicaid expansion information has not been provided to the Legislature’s fiscal staff and so is not available to the public either.

“The part that is of concern to us there is twofold,” Combs told the committee. “Your staff doesn’t have access to the information. The other concern is that information that is provided to us on Oct. 15 is supposed to be open for public dissemination at that point.

“Now if you, or a member of the public, asks us for anything that was in an item for special consideration, we don’t have it,” he said. “Even though we feel the statute requires that that to be available to you or a member of the public that ask for it.”

Combs said his staff  has asked for the information but has not received a response from Mohlenkamp.

IFC Chairwoman and Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, asked Mohlenkamp for an explanation.

Mohlenkamp said a decision has not been made yet on whether to provide the information to legislative staff, and that the budget information transmitted to lawmakers has fulfilled the statutory obligation to lawmakers.

“We’re still considering whether we will be able to provide access to LCB fiscal,” he said. “That decision hasn’t been made. I’ve been in coordination with the governor’s office on this and I’m hopeful that we will be able to give a firm and final response in the near future. But right now that decision hasn’t been made.”

Mohlenkamp said there are all kinds of agency requests beyond Sandoval’s flat-budget guidelines that may not end up as part of the budget, and so should not be subject to speculation.

The change is significant enough that Geoff Dornan, the long-time capital bureau reporter for the Nevada Appeal, made a rare public comment at the meeting.

“We have always gotten the items for special consideration,” he said. “This change completely changes how the law has been interpreted, for longer than Mr. Mohlenkamp, no offense, has been working for the state.”

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, also expressed concern, saying that if Sandoval decides not to propose expanding Medicaid to the new eligible population, then the budget data collected to provide background on this item of special consideration might never be provided to lawmakers or the public.

Kieckhefer said he would have a problem if that information was never made public.

Mohlenkamp said the Sandoval administration has not yet decided whether that information would be made public at some point.

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Audio clips:

LCB Director Rick Combs says the lack of budget data creates two concerns:

102512Combs1 :13 at that point.”

Combs says the LCB fiscal staff cannot provide information to lawmakers about the special budget requests because it does not have the information:

102512Combs2 :16 asks for it.”

Nevada Appeal reporter Geoff Dornan says the budget information should be made public:

102512Dornan :33 capital press corps.”

State Budget Director Jeff Mohlenkamp says  a decision has not been made on whether to provide the information to legislative staff:

102512Mohlenkamp :21 hasn’t been made.”