Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011 | 3:43 p.m.
CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said there will be consolidation of state agencies resulting in some employees losing their jobs, but there won't be hundreds of layoffs like what's happening in some other states.
Talking about his upcoming budget, Sandoval on Wednesday said “some departments will not exist anymore.” And he suggested there might be a “pay for performance” model in his budget to be unveiled Monday in his State of the State address.
The governor has pledged a balanced budget with no new taxes. The state faces a deficit of anywhere from $1 billion to $3 billion, depending on whose estimates are used.
“You will see a different approach with regard to the transparency of state agencies and performance indicators that I think will be refreshing,” he said.
Under Sandoval's proposal, state workers would see a 5 percent pay cut, health insurance benefits would be reduced and employees would pay a higher contribution toward their retirement. The governor said he has received e-mails from state workers about the pay cut and "some were disappointed," but others offered suggestions to improve state government.
He told a news conference that he visited a senior citizens' center in Fallon and told those in attendance there would be “shared sacrifices” in the budget, but the personal care program for the elderly will be retained.
He said there is going to be a “combination” of shifting services to local governments. He said he has talked about home rule for local governments, permitting them to raise their own taxes, but added that he won’t be talking about that in his State of the State message.
The governor was asked about shared sacrifices for Nevada businesses, since he has said he's retaining a tax break for small business. He said businesses are paying higher unemployment insurance tax rates and have been laying off workers and dipping into savings to keep going.
During the campaign, Sandoval said he would fully fund Medicaid, the program that provides medical care for the poor. He said Wednesday he has preserved Medicaid in his budget, but declined to say if it would be fully funded.
“I’m doing the best I can,” he said.
Sandoval said it would be up to the chancellor and the Board of Regents to decide if there would be tuition increases at universities and community colleges.
He repeated earlier statements that four museums on the chopping block in the suggested budget under Gov. Jim Gibbons would stay open. They are the Lost City Museum, the Nevada Historical Society in Reno and the railroad museums in Ely and Carson City.
His budget will include $60 million to pay the federal government interest on an estimated $1 billion the state borrowed to make unemployment payments.
Sandoval also said he will attend the National Governors’ Conference in Washington, D.C., and will ask Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to speed up the time for issuance of mining permits. There are hundreds of high-paying jobs that can be produced from the additional mines in Nevada, he said.