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July 22, 2014

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Governor’s staff proposes $328 million in budget cuts

Plan would cut funding for school districts and higher education by 10 percent each

Gov. Jim Gibbons

Gov. Jim Gibbons

Robin Reedy

Robin Reedy

Sun Coverage

CARSON CITY — Gov. Jim Gibbons’ senior staff released recommendations Wednesday evening to eliminate 235 jobs, close Nevada State Prison, and cut funding for school districts and higher education by 10 percent each.

The recommended budget cuts would also impact services to the poor, elderly and mentally disabled.

In total, the cuts would save about $328 million, according to the administration's figures.

When other cuts are included, the plan results in about $418 million in reductions, according to Gibbons’ chief of staff, Robin Reedy. That’s a far cry from the $881 million required to balance the budget. But it provides the first details about how the governor would make those cuts.

Gibbons’ senior staff presented the proposed cuts to lawmakers Wednesday during a three-hour meeting.

Democratic lawmakers seemed to acknowledge the plan’s merit, and would not dismiss any specific portion of it as unworkable.

“The list contains many things no one wants to see happen,” said Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas. “My guess is that many of the things will happen.”

“It’s a start,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “These are all very, very ugly options. But they’re the types of things we hoped we would see. It’s far from meeting the $881 million shortfall, so we have a ways to go.”

Both Horsford and Buckley said lawmakers would spend tonight reviewing the cuts and preparing questions for the administration for when they meet again at 7 a.m. Thursday.

Reedy and Deputy Chief of Staff Lynn Hettrick said they did not want to say yet how the rest of the shortfall could be addressed.

Hettrick said they were still researching some ideas to see if they are legal or would generate revenue in time. Hettrick repeated that there would be no tax increases.

Among the items included in the governor’s presentation:

• Closure of Nevada State Prison in Carson City, eliminating 136 jobs.

• Reduction of funding to school districts by about 10 percent, or $166 million.

• The layoff of 27 people at the Gaming Control Board, which regulates the gaming industry.

• Reduction in hospital reimbursement rates of 5 percent, saving $6.2 million in state money and $9.2 million in federal money.

• Cuts to personal care services, including clinical screening for new clients and limits on incontinence supplies and medical glove coverage for providers.

• About 140 fewer housing placements for the homeless mentally ill, resulting in more mentally ill people on the street and in emergency rooms, but saving the state general fund about $4 million.

• A 10 percent, or $6 million, cut passed on to Clark County’s Department of Family Services, which provides foster care and child protective services to children.

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