State department heads told to plan flat budgets

State agencies were told Wednesday that Gov. Steve Sisolak is planning a flat budget for the coming biennium.
That means agencies are capped at two times their legislatively approved 2023 fiscal year budget.
The goal is to produce budget plans that lay out the cost of, “continuing the same level of service as the current year.”
Susan Brown, head of the Governor’s Finance Office, told the group of more than 80 agency representatives that positions added using American Rescue Plan Act money will be included in the agency budget caps for the coming two years.
But down the road, ARPA money will no longer be available to cover those costs. That impacts a total of 796 positions in FY 2024 costing $51.4 million.
Federal cash covers the tab in FY2024-25 but after that, the state would have to pay for them, adding a substantial amount to the state’s budget.
The number of employees in those positions, however, will be reduced somewhat because of the rule that any position vacant for 12 months or more is eliminated unless the agency can provide justification to keep the position.
Brown said with the addition of $6.7 billion in federal funding, total state spending this biennium totaled just about $35 billion.
She said money available for ARPA positions comes to $2.7 billion of that total.
Once that money is gone after 2025, it will be up to the governor, his senior staff and lawmakers to figure out how to pay for them since they likely will still be needed.
Many of them were added in the agencies most impacted by the pandemic such as the Department of Health and Human Services and DETR’s Employment Security Division.
Brown and her team emphasized that enhancements will have to be thoroughly justified, unless they are because of a federal mandate or court ruling, and it will be up to her office and the governor to approve or deny them. The same goes for supplemental appropriations — added money to backfill unexpected shortfalls in the current budget.
In the last Legislature, one of the biggest supplemental appropriations was to Nevada’s school districts (primarily Clark County) to pay for larger-than-expected pupil enrollments that the state has to pay for by statute.
Agencies have until Sept. 1 to submit their plan for the governor’s recommended budget. The deadline for submitting Capital Improvement Project requests is April 1.


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