Las Vegas Sun

October 16, 2019

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Gibbons to propose more salary cuts, says he’ll veto tax hikes

At a news conference today Gov. Jim Gibbons criticized lawmakers for reversing some of his budget cuts and again pledged to veto any tax increases passed by the Legislature.

Gibbons was flanked at the news conference by five Republican assemblymen, none of whom are in legislative leadership.

Gibbons said his office would submit a budget amendment Friday to propose additional reductions in salaries for state workers, teachers and university employees. The governor, who originally proposed pay cuts of 6 percent for the public employees, wouldn't say the size of the proposed additional pay cut.

Gibbons' staff expects the Economic Forum -- which provides binding revenue estimates for state government -- will create another $500 million hole in the budget when it announces its projections Friday.

Gibbons said each additional 1 percent pay cut to public employees saves the state $70 million over the biennium.

Gibbons' budget has been roundly criticized by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

The Legislature's money committees have been "closing" budget accounts - $11 million have been closed, and Legislative leadership has looked at closing another $62 million.

"When you're in a hole, you have to stop digging," Gibbons said, adding that any tax increase should be off the table. "The state can't take more from people who make less."

Besides additional pay cuts, Gibbons said some money could be taken from the capital improvement programs.

Gibbons said his staff requested to be in legislative meetings on the budget but was rebuffed when his staff said Gibbons wouldn't bend on taxes.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, rebuffed chief of staff Josh Hicks and legislative liason Jodi Stevens, Stevens said during the press conference.

Some of the most severe cuts Gibbons proposed have been to higher education.

Sen. John Ensign told capitol reporters earlier this month that “I don’t think he (Gibbons) thinks they could be sustained.”

Gibbons said he hadn't had conversations with Ensign, but pointed out that the higher education system can raise revenues.

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