Monday, Feb. 8, 2010 | 7:44 p.m.
- Governor plans emergency address on Nevada budget (2-7-10)
- Governor’s speech will lay out state’s budget problems (2-7-10)
- State budget comes up $800 million short (1-22-10)
- Forecast: Economy will begin to rebound in mid-2011 (1-22-10)
- Gibbons’ no-talk order further divides branches (1-22-10)
- Special session may require help of state Supreme Court (1-10-10)
CARSON CITY – At a press conference after his State of the State address, Gov. Jim Gibbons said he expects the special session to last longer than one day but he didn't see a fight over taxes, as occurred in 2009. He said he talked to many Democrats who don’t want to boost taxes in the special session.
Government is going to have to reduce its services, he said. “We’re out of money,” he told reporters.
In one proposed cut, Gibbons said he wants to allow school districts to decide if smaller classes in primary grades should be continued. Gibbons said he would eliminate the state law and allow districts to decide whether to continue the program.
“Despite 20 years of state-imposed student-teacher ratios in first, second and third grade, student achievement in Nevada has not improved,” he said.
To beef up the economy, he wants to establish Nevada as “the recycling capital of the West.” He said technology exists to convert 75 percent of all waste collected into recycled materials for construction and agricultural use.
He said a pilot program will be started in Carson City and will be expanded statewide. This will eliminate landfills “as we know them today and stop Nevada from becoming the dumping ground for California’s trash.”
He said there might be new fees charged to customers, but “we don’t know the exact amount.”
The governor pledged to “protect programs that protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”
He said salary cuts might be on the horizon for 18,000 workers on the state's payroll. Several hundred state workers would be laid off.
The 140-year-old Nevada State Prison in Carson City would be closed under his recommendation, saving some $12 million.
The governor announced a new program called “education gift certificate” in which citizens could donate money to a nonprofit organization that would spend the money only on teachers’ salaries. He hopes that can be tax deductible.
He told the news conference he is still pushing a voucher program for parents to choose where the send their children to school.
“We need to give the choice back to the parents,” he said.
Gibbons also used part of his speech to criticize the 2009 Legislature, which raised taxes by nearly $1 billion. He accused them of making “the wrong call.”
“They (the Legislature) gambled on new taxes and we all lost,” he said.
Yet at his press conference, he said he will work with lawmakers.
He said he is asking teachers to do more with less, but did not get specific.
Gibbons said he recommended a 6 percent cut in pay for state workers last year, but the Legislature imposed a furlough program to save money. That is not working, the governor said.
“New across-the-board salary reductions for state workers may be necessary, but that will be a last resort,” the governor said. He added that he and his staff have already taken 6 percent salary reductions.
And some reductions will be made in health care programs, he said.
But the state will survive “and we will emerge with a state government that is leaner and smarter," he said.