The discussion came up as the Senate contemplated SB3, a bill that features several techniques Nevada has used in years past to shore up budget holes. That includes shifting money from the highway fund to the general fund, implementing an “amnesty program” so people can pay delinquent taxes without penalties, and requiring mining to pay two years’ worth of payments at once to boost the budget by an estimated $54 million.
Members of the Assembly during a Saturday hearing excoriated a bill that proposes allowing the Clark County School District to take back carryover dollars from schools and redistribute them among those that stand to be hit hardest by the budget cuts under consideration by the Legislature.
As proposed, implementing furloughs and merit pay freezes for the state’s 18,000 employees would save the state a combined $66 million ($51.7 million from state workers and $14.3 million from merit pay freezes), a sizable portion of the governor’s plan to meet the $1.2 billion shortfall in the state budget.
NSHE deputy chancellor Crystal Abba told lawmakers via video conference that the system expected the bill to benefit about 12 percent of scholarship recipients from the spring 2020 semester whose grade point average fell below normal GPA requirements. While NSHE has not done a complete look at individual cases, Abba said the higher education system did not want to punish students who faced massive social and financial disruption during the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials at the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said at a weekly videoconference press briefing on Friday that 105,207 PUA claimants had started receiving payment, up about 900 from last week’s update. Meanwhile, about 35,000 more PUA claims were filed in the last week, for a total of 307,749 claims filed since the federally funded program — geared toward independent contractors and the self-employed — launched less than two months ago.
Further details about the situation were not immediately available, including whether the individual is a lawmaker, legislative staff member or member of the press. The legislative building has been closed to members of the public, including lobbyists, for the duration of the special session because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As of Friday, seven counties — Clark, Washoe, Elko, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon and Nye — were deemed at risk and will be forced to close bars, pubs, taverns, distilleries, breweries, and wineries that don’t serve food. Those counties, combined, make up about 94.6 percent of the state’s population.
Sisolak answered their statements later at a press conference, signaling that he would leave the tax discussion up to the Legislature and that the ball was in the court of Republicans, who can block any tax increase vote with the one-vote advantage they have in the Senate. He said he was disappointed that no state Senate Republicans had approached him about potential ways to increase revenue to lessen the cuts.
Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered the first major rollback of the state’s business reopening plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic by ordering bar closures in counties with spiking caseloads and limiting restaurant dining to parties of no more than six people.
In her first interview following reports last month that the casino company run by her husband had benefited from a change in the federal government’s paycheck protection program that she pushed for, Democratic Rep. Susie Lee forcefully defended her actions and flatly denied any conflict of interest, saying in part: “I was doing my job.”
The state’s Financial Institutions Division invited the public to weigh in Wednesday on the implementation of a state payday loan database, with detractors calling proposed regulations “burdensome” and supporters arguing they are the only way to protect vulnerable families from “predatory” lenders.
Although the budget proposal would cut more than $72.6 million from the Capital Improvement Projects budget, the worst of the cuts in the budget account for construction, repair and maintenance of state-owned property being avoided thanks to expanded use of unused general bond dollars.
Gov. Steve Sisolak is requesting congressional leaders axe a last-minute provision, slipped into a defense authorization bill last week, that would give the Air Force the final say over how more than 800,000 acres of protected land are managed at a wildlife refuge outside of Las Vegas.
State officials presented to the Senate on Wednesday $233 million in proposed cuts from the health care budget that will slash key programs for low-income Nevadans and significantly pare back mental health services to ease a budget crisis caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The proposed cuts play out like a reversal of the past three sessions, when a state recovering from the recession added and expanded a long list of “categorical” programs meant to provide extra support to students with extra needs.
But a document published late Wednesday by the Legislature and reviewed by The Nevada Independent gives a clearer picture of the breadth and scope of the more than $500 million proposed to be cut from state agency and division budgets. Lawmakers retain the ability to make changes to the plan.
Sisolak said he’s spoken with Democratic legislative leaders about what tax sources could potentially be raised to help offset expected massive budget cuts, but said it was dependent on a state Senate Republican to cross party lines and vote for a tax increase to clear the constitutional two-thirds majority needed to raise revenue.