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November 26, 2014

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Nevada stimulus fund estimate uncertain

Nevada got an estimate of nearly $1.5 billion last week as its cut of federal stimulus funds, but Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley said Monday there's still no certainty about the bottom-line total given complicated rules for getting the money.

Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said legislative staffers spent the weekend analyzing the stimulus bill passed by Congress, and continue to work on figuring out exactly what the measure, more than 600 pages long, means to Nevada.

For now, Buckley said it looks like about $400 million of the total will come to the state in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP, funds. Medicaid programs are in line for most of the FMAP money, although other human services programs also will benefit.

Earlier estimates, from the Nevada Governors Association and National Conference of State Legislatures, had put the FMAP total at $450 million.

Buckley also said Nevada should get about $395 million in state stabilization funds, which could be used for education. However, she said the state may have to match that with funds equal to about two-thirds of the stabilization total, so the net amount from the federal government would be much less.

Also included in the federal total is just over $200 million for "shovel-ready" highway construction projects, mainly in the Las Vegas and Reno areas, Nevada's population centers. Various projects that could get some of that money have a combined total cost of several hundred million dollars.

Besides the FMAP, stabilitation and highway funds, the money for Nevada includes millions of additional dollars for renewable energy programs, special education, vocational rehabilitation, water quality and mass transit programs, and grants for dislocated workers.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is expected to talk more about the stimulus bill when he addresses the Nevada Legislature on Wednesday.

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