AP Photo/Cathleen Allison
Monday, March 28, 2011 | 2:44 p.m.
CARSON CITY – The full Senate received a briefing on Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $5.8 billion budget Monday and got a call from the majority leader to start talking about taxes.
Sen. Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said about half of the budget can be agreed upon, even with some major cuts. But he urged senators to put aside their ideological differences and “talk about our revenue needs to balance the budget.”
Sandoval, in an effort to balance the budget without new taxes, has proposed major cuts in education and social services while shifting some programs to local government.
The budget has a shortfall of at least $1.1 billion in the next biennium, according to legislative fiscal analysts. But state Budget Director Andrew Clinger said that's assuming there won’t be growth in the economy.
Clinger said the sales and use tax, a major contributor to the state, is $32 million higher than predicted during this fiscal year.
Much of the discussion in the Senate centered on the proposed reduction in state support to the schools. The governor is suggesting that all government employees – state, school teachers and university faculty – take a 5 percent salary reduction.
In addition, school teachers would pay 5.3 percent more into their retirement funds.
“This affects the morale more than anything,” said Horsford. Some teachers also are getting layoff notices. In White Pine County, Horsford said he has been told that 10-15 teachers could lose their jobs.
Dale Eriquaga, senior adviser to Sandoval, told reporters that the governor is optimistic that there will be additional money for the next biennium. He said the budget office has been directed to prepare an “add on” list of education and social programs if there is more money than expected.