Las Vegas Sun

February 22, 2017

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Gibbons unsure about accepting $162 million in federal money

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Gov. Jim Gibbons

CARSON CITY -- Gov. Jim Gibbons isn't sure whether he will accept $162 million in federal money to hire school teachers and supply funds to the Medicaid program.

Gibbons said he first wants to see the strings attached to the law signed this week by President Obama. It would protect an estimated 1,400 teacher jobs in Nevada.

The governor has to approve accepting the money pushed through Congress by Democrats.

Gibbons said, however, the details in the bill are being studied.

Gibbons complained that the federal government is making decisions on Nevada's school system. For instance, he said the Eureka County School District might need books or computers but will be required to use the funds for teachers.

"We have to study the requirements for taking that money," Gibbons said. "The requirements by the federal government oftentimes put us in a more difficult position."

He said the state might get the $82 million for education "but in some ways you have to continue to spend state money to keep getting that money and oftentimes we don't have the matching dollars."

"I'm prepared to say 'Thank you' and I'm prepared to say 'Thank you, but no thank you,'" Gibbons said.

The state, under the federal legislation, would get $79 million for the Medicaid program, which provides medical care for the needy.

Gibbons press secretary Daniel Burns said it was disappointing for the federal government to offer money to states and not let states decide how to spend it.

"Rhode Island, Florida, Mississippi and Nevada have different educational needs and to say that all this money can only be spent on teachers when a school district may need books or buses or supplies for the classroom ... That's part of the strings attached," he said.

Republicans Sen. John Ensign and Rep. Dean Heller opposed the congressional bill, saying it wouldn't create jobs in private business or spur the economy.

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