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Gibbons says state won’t seek local government funds

Updated Monday, Feb. 1, 2010 | 4:10 p.m.

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Gov. Jim Gibbons speaks with reporters in Las Vegas during a Sept. 10 news conference on the I-15 expansion project.

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Gov. Jim Gibbons told city and county officials today he wouldn't go after local government tax revenues or public works funds to balance the state's $900 million deficit.

"We don't want to pass anything down," Gibbons told reporters after the meeting in Carson City, with some attendees video-conferenced from Las Vegas.

In the budget he presented to the Legislature last year, Gibbons had proposed taking some property tax money from counties. Since then, Gibbons said, local governments have seen their own budgets suffer.

He said he told local government leaders he didn't want local governments to shirk responsibilities, such as some licensing, back to the state.

Some state observers have pointed to $4 billion that local governments have for infrastructure projects as a possible way to avoid painful cuts or a tax increase. Gibbons said he wouldn't recommend going after that money.

Gibbons is set to give a special State of the State speech Monday to address the budget crisis. He is expected to call a special session of the Legislature to Carson City sometime later this month to deal with the state's budget shortfall.

Gibbons offered few specifics in what he would cut.

Gibbons said he would seek "fairness" in how employees' salaries are reduced. While some workers have been forced to take a one-day-a-month furlough, equal to a 4.6 percent pay cut, thousands of others have been exempted. Gibbons said he will seek to impose a pay cut on those who don't take furloughs.

Gibbons said they are also looking at additional salary reductions for state workers, including teachers and university employees. Gibbons said he is looking "how much can we go without people walking." In response to questions, he said he "couldn't go much more than 6 percent."

He said some departments would have to cut more than the 10 percent he told agencies to prepare for, while others, like public safety, would have to cut less.

Asked if any cuts are now off the table, Gibbons said he would not close a state prison in Ely.

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