Guinn hopes updates will ease budget

Gov. Kenny Guinn is moving to try ensure the legislative impasse, which stalled his budget this year, doesn't happen again in 2005.

The key, he told Assembly Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, is to improve communication about the state budget, growth and needs in Nevada.

He said he plans to keep legislative as well as key business leaders up on exactly what's happening with different state programs, including how much they are being affected by growth, changes in both federal and state law and regulations.

"That way, they may still disagree, but they'll know what the numbers are and what's happening," he said.

"That makes it easier for us, too," said Hettrick, referring to the GOP anti-tax group in the Assembly which blocked final passage of the budget for nearly two months after the end of the regular 2003 Legislature. "We may not like the taxes but at least we'll know how they're being spent, whether they're doing some good."

Guinn told Hettrick and fellow Assembly members Tom Grady of Yerington and Ron Knecht of Carson City they'll get regular briefings by e-mail on such things as the effect growth is having on state services and education.

Guinn added that many moving to Nevada, particularly from California, are seniors who need more services yet often aren't in the work force or children."We get hit both ways - seniors and kids," he said. "That's expensive growth."

Guinn said bringing legislators more into the loop should help them better understand why he makes the budget decisions he does over the next 18 months.

Guinn ran into problems during the 2003 session with lawmakers who disagreed vehemently with what he described as the needs of the state. They questioned the administration's projections on everything including welfare and Medicaid caseloads. He also offended a number of lawmakers by describing those who opposed any tax increase as "irrelevant."

A group of 15 Assembly Republicans - just enough to prevent a two-thirds vote - held out until late July, demanding Guinn reopen and cut back the budget instead of approve tax increases.

Finally, the majority convinced John Marvel, R-Battle Mountain, to back a heavily modified tax plan, passing both it and the budget for public schools.

Guinn said Wednesday his administration will attempt to keep lawmakers and business leaders up on what's happening all through the coming 18 months so they see the trends and needs develop, see how different programs are working - in short, so they have access to the same data he does.

Hettrick said although an excellent idea, Guinn's plan still doesn't guarantee he and others will support what the governor proposes in 2005.


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