Published Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 | 12:16 a.m.
Updated Monday, Oct. 8, 2012 | 8:57 a.m.
CARSON CITY — Faced with rising costs, Gov. Brian Sandoval is backing off his promise to undo pay cuts imposed on state employees last year.
Gerald Gardner, his chief of staff, said the governor has issued orders to agency heads to continue the reductions in the proposed 2014-15 budget. Gardner told the Nevada Appeal that Sandoval hasn't given up on efforts to undo the work furloughs, pay cuts, and suspension of merit and longevity pay imposed on state workers.
But he said the governor doesn't know if he'll get the money to do so as rising costs eat up revenue gains amid a weak economic recovery.
"Despite a slight increase in state revenues, caseload growth in Health and Human Services, as well as projected and mandated Affordable Care Act health care costs, are simply much higher than anticipated," Gardner said.
Sandoval earlier this year said he intended to restore what had been taken from state workers by his administration and the 2011 Legislature.
Gardner said final decisions on whether any or all of those cuts can be undone will depend on how much money is available after the state Economic Forum projects revenues for the rest of this fiscal year and the upcoming two-year period.
State employees have complained the cuts amount to a tax increase on them so that businesses don't have to pay more taxes. All state workers were hit with a 2.5 percent pay cut and six unpaid furlough days each year for another 2.3 percent cut. Restoring those would cost an estimated $120.5 million.
In all, it would take about $200 million during the next two years to restore state employee pay to previous levels.
Restoring step increases and merit pay to previous levels would cost another $65 million over the biennium and adding back longevity pay would cost about $7.4 million.
Sandoval has consistently rejected the idea of raising taxes.
Many state agency heads say that they're having difficulty hiring and retaining employees because of the cuts.