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July 23, 2014

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Economic Forum sides with bleaker view of the state budget mess (UPDATED)

Another $250 million in cuts will be needed out of the state budget, according to the five-member Economic Forum that met Friday.

The Economic Forum sided with the executive branches' more dire predictions of state revenues, increasing the hole that lawmakers will have to fill in next week's special session of the legislature.

Gov. Jim Gibbons today announced he will delay the special session until next Friday to give staff more time to prepare.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau started today saying an additional $94 million in cuts would have to be made. The administration put the number at $242.8 million. The Economic Forum, made up of five business leaders, acted as referee.

The cuts are on top of the $914 million in cuts and savings already accrued.

First major decision was on gaming, where the bureau was $45 million more optimistic than the administration.

MGM Mirage executive Cathy Santoro led the fight against optimism, offering a grim view of the near-term gaming in Nevada.

The Economic Forum settled on a unanimous 2 percent increase from fiscal year 08 to fiscal year 09. The Legislative Counsel Bureau had predicted a 5.4 percent increase. The budget division had put it at .6 percent.

Then the big one of the day: sales and use tax projections. On this one, the Legislative Counsel Bureau staff and governor's were $71 million apart, again with the bureau offering a more optimistic view.

The Economic Forum went unanimously with the executive staff numbers, which hold that there will be a 3.6 percent dip in the current fiscal year compared to last year, then another 3.6 percent dip. Final numbers won't be out until later.

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