SAN FRANCISCO - Given three days to cut the budget, Nevada lawmakers did their business in one day Friday, authorizing $275 million in cuts and adjourning after a little more than 12 hours.
Gov. Jim Gibbons called the special session of the Legislature, saying the input of all lawmakers would be needed to help the state government adjust to the latest in a long series of disappointing revenue figures.
The Economic Forum, a state body created to make budget forecasts, announced in June that Nevada's budget shortfall had grown by an additional $250 million, on top of more than $900 million in earlier shortfalls to the 2007-2009 biennial budget. The adopted budget for the biennium forecast $6.8 billion in general fund revenue, while the state is now projecting revenue of about $5.6 billion, a drop of about 17.6%.
The earlier shortfalls had been dealt with through cuts implemented by Gibbons and the Legislature's Interim Finance Committee.
In their one-day session Friday, lawmakers bypassed the Republican governor's suggestions to enact legislation put together earlier in the week in negotiations between Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas.
Among other things, lawmakers agreed to tap the state's rainy-day fund.
They also quickly shelved Gibbons' proposal to enact a spending cap, while cutting $48 million in school textbook spending the governor said he wanted to keep.
Also on Friday, the state Board of Finance met and gave final approval to Nevada's plans to issue general obligation bonds next month.
On July 16, the state will sell $282 million of Series 2008C, $13 million of Series 2008D, and $3.4 million Series of 2008E. On July 17 it will sell two bond issues backed by revolving funds, and also carrying the state's limited-tax GO pledge, for a total of about $4.4 million.
"There'll be a little bit of fine tuning on the sizing, but overall they're pretty darn close," Lori Chatwood, deputy of debt management in the state treasurer's office, said yesterday.
The bonds will be sold competitively. NSB Public Finance is financial adviser on the larger June 16 transaction and JNA Consulting Group LLC is FA on the July 17 sale.
During Friday's special session, Gibbons announced a staff shake-up that sent his chief of staff packing and shuffled another key staffer with the head of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry.
Chief of staff Michael Dayton will resign effective later this month, Gibbons announced, and chief operating officer Dianne Cornwall will leave the governor's office to direct the Department of Business and Industry. The two have reportedly feuded.
The Department of Business and Industry oversees the state's private activity bond allocations and is also the parent to the Nevada Housing Division, the state's housing finance agency.
Mendy Elliot, the current director of business and industry, will become deputy chief of staff under the new chief of staff, Josh Hicks, currently the governor's general counsel.