Las Vegas Sun

July 26, 2017

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Democrats’ proposed budget compromise includes $250 million in cuts

CARSON CITY — Democrats in the Legislature are at loggerheads over how much they should concede to the governor and Republicans, now that it’s evident they won’t be able to raise taxes other than extending the 2009 increases set to expire next month.

The Las Vegas Sun has obtained a list of $250 million in cuts Democrats have agreed to in order to win Republican support. But some Assembly Democrats say these cuts go too far.

Assembly Ways and Means Chairwoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, acknowledged passions were running high in her caucus.

“We’re all tired; we’re all frustrated,” she said. “We’ll take everything one step at a time, one hour at a time.”

Under the proposal, the state would assume school districts would implement a 2.5 percent pay reduction for teachers and district personnel, higher education would get another trim and a variety of social services programs would be slashed.

Smith said the cuts beat “the alternative — what you see in the governor’s recommended budget.”

She said a bigger unknown than the unity of the Assembly Democrats’ caucus is the status of Senate Republicans, who still publicly have refused to negotiate.

Terms of the proposal:

• A 2.5 percent pay cut in salaries for all school employees, including teachers and administrators, saving the state $117.5 million over two years.

• Reduce basic per-pupil school support by $100 in each year, saving the state $85 million.

• Reduce higher education funding by $20 million over two years, putting the cut from 13.54 percent to 15.34 percent.

• Eliminate a senior citizens property tax assistance program with 16,609 participants who, on average, get a refund of $267 a year. It would save $1.2 million over two years.

• Not fund a portion of the self-directed autism program, saving $2.8 million.

• Reduce Medicaid and Nevada Check-Up funding by $19.3 million for the biennium. That includes a $5 per bed-day reduction for nursing homes, a 0.7 percent rate reduction for dental services, a 15 percent rate reduction for surgical centers and ambulance services, and increased costs to counties.

• Not funding subsidized child care for 295 children of people on welfare, saving $2 million.

• Reduce mental health services by $2.3 million.

• Reduce supported living arrangements for mental health services.

• Eliminate a high-intensity team to deal with those with mental health needs, saving $1 million.

• Eliminate supported living arrangements for 54 positions, saving $3 million.

• Shift costs of youth parole services to the county for about $5.5 million.

• Reduce room and board funding for youth with mental health programs, saving $1.4 million.

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