Faced with a budget shortfall projected to grow by another $400 million, Gov. Jim Gibbons said Wednesday that he would like Nevada to securitize the payments the state receives from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies.

Gibbons predicted that such a securitization, something Nevada has not done before, would raise about $340 million, while still providing two years of funding for programs currently funded by tobacco payments, including a college scholarship program and senior citizens’ prescription program.

“These moves, like most of the money-saving efforts we have proposed, are difficult decisions. But it is a difficult economic time for everyone,” the governor said in a statement. “It is the wrong time to ask our citizens who have less, to pay more. Once again, I am showing the Legislature how to balance our state’s budget without raising taxes.”

Gibbons, a Republican, faces Democratic majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

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