Las Vegas Sun

September 17, 2014

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Assemblywomen accuse Gibbons of trying to change the subject

Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas and Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, both say the governor is trying to get the public's attention turned away from his divorce and text messaging controvery.

Buckley said, "It seems the governor is trying to change the topic with his text thing into something else." Leslie said the governor "wants to change the focus from his little foibles" to a special session.

Leslie said the problem can be handled without a special session.

Buckley said 75 percent of the cost-of-living increases will go to school teachers, and the school districts have already signed contracts. She has talked with school officials who are now talking about shortening the school year, a four-day school week or even charging for bus transportation.

"They're scrambling to deal with another cut," she said. "He failed to communicate with the superintendents, blind siding them with another cut and he waited until they already approved their budget for next year," she said. "It defies logic."

The Gibbons' administration is "trying to use this for election purposes," Leslie said.

Both Buckley and Leslie said Gibbons agreed to work with legislators at a high level budget meeting on Thursday. A day later, he calls a special session.

Buckley said a governor generally identifies the problem, develops a solution, works with legislators to reach consensus and then calls the session. This saves both time and money. Buckley said that hasn't happened in this case and it could be a long special session that is limited to 20 days.

Leslie said the legislative leaders met with Gibbons Thursday and there was an agreement to work together to solve the problem. She feels it can be taken care of without a special session. She pitched a plan to convince the federal government to back off a Medicaid regulation that would save Nevada $32 million.

She said state officials should work hard to reverse the government and that would save half the deficit.

Leslie said the governor showed no respect for the lawmakers by not notifying them first.

Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, is backing Raggio in the plan to cancel the 4 percent cost-of-living raise for teachers, university personnel and state workers that goes into effect July 1.

Gansert said that would save laying off 2,000 workers. The state employees got a 2 percent raise last July. Many of them get yearly increases up to 5 percent as they move up the so-called "step" ladder in their job category.

The delay in the cost of living increases "will save a lot of jobs," she said.

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