Las Vegas Sun

June 3, 2015

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Sandoval says he never promised to restore state workers’ pay

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval said he will still attempt to reverse salary cuts and furloughs borne by state employees since 2009, but the state has to weigh costs in health and human services and see where the state's tax collections are.

Sandoval, talking to reporters Tuesday after a Board of Examiner's meeting, said he never promised to restore those cuts, though instructions to agencies included that direction.

"I'm hopeful ... we can restore some of those salary reductions that have occurred historically," he said.

Since 2009, the state's budget has been balanced in large part with reductions to the pay for 17,000 state employees. In 2011, the Legislature and Sandoval instituted a 2.5 percent pay cut and six furlough days a year to save the state about $123 million a year. It also eliminated automatic pay increases for some employees and longevity pay, saving $69 million, according to the state budget office.

Sandoval's chief of staff, Gerald Gardner, told the Nevada Appeal last week that he had directed agencies to build those pay cuts and furloughs back into their budgets. Earlier budget instructions from the governor attempted to restore pay levels.

"I appreciate the hard work and dedication of state employees," Sandoval said Tuesday, pointing to state employees' response to Northern Nevada fires and efforts to reduce the costs of leases.

"It's a consideration to restore those" reductions, he said.

He instructed agencies to prepare "flat" budgets, but include the costs of increased caseloads and federal mandates. He said one area of increase has been health and human services, part of which he blamed on the Affordable Care Act.

He said his administration has not made a decision on whether or not to expand Medicaid, the state's health insurance program for the poor and disabled, as envisioned under "Obamacare."

He said he instructed health and human services to prepare two budgets, one with the expansion and one without.

State agency budget recommendations will be released Friday, under state law, but the governor's recommended budget won't be presented to the Legislature until early 2013. That budget will be presented to the Legislature in January.

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