Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010 | 5:27 p.m.
Gov. Jim Gibbons has pulled two of his senior staff members from the Legislative Building, with his spokesman saying that lawmakers' questions are getting repetitive and "berating."
Gibbons personally sent his senior staff to pull budget director Andrew Clinger and Department of Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden to leave the Legislature this evening, said spokesman Dan Burns.
"How many days, how many hours do we have to spend listening to this?" Burns asked. "It's laughable. It gets to the point where they're just verbally berating hardworking state employees."
Gibbons called the Legislature to Carson City today for a special session to close the state's $887 million budget shortfall. This first day has been spent in public hearings on the proposed budget cuts in the Assembly and Senate. A smaller group of legislators have spent the past two weeks holding similar hearings.
It's unclear how the governor's actions could impact the rest of the special session. Burns did not indicate how the governor planned to handle department heads scheduled to deliver future testimony before the Legislature.
Clinger and Willden faced tough questions from lawmakers about the governor's proposals. In one instance, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, pressed Clinger on why some fee increases, to things such as beds in veterans' homes and children's health care, were OK, while others, for restaurant health inspections, were not.
Clinger explained that in some instances, such as the veterans' home increase, groups supported the increase.
"Are you saying that children, or the parents of children looking to purchase health care through the state, support a 300 percent increase in the fees?" Horsford asked Clinger.
"No, that's not what I'm saying," Clinger responded.
Burns said that much of Tuesday has been a repetition of legislative meetings held over the past two weeks on the potential impact of budget cuts. He noted it costs $150,000 for the first day of the special session and $50,000 for each day thereafter.