Spending bills worth millions working way through Nevada Legislature
CARSON CITY, Nev. — With less than two weeks to go in the 2019 Nevada Legislative session, the state’s money committees are meeting multiple times a day to process bills needed to implement the state budget for the coming two years.
In addition, they’re processing supplemental appropriations needed to cover shortfalls in this year’s budgets.
The largest of those is $130 million in SB532 Medicaid needs to cover costs in the current fiscal biennium. More than $115 million of that is federal money. Just more than $15 million comes from the General Fund.
In addition, lawmakers had to make up the K-12 per pupil funding shortfall that totals more than $27 million.
SB520 makes up $19.4 million of that through marijuana taxes and other revenues, but the state is still on the hook for $8.2 million more in General Fund revenue to pay for unanticipated enrollment growth in Nevada’s public schools. Ways and Means voted to approve SB520 Wednesday morning.
The committee also approved SB541 that makes permanent the transfer of 25 percent of Governmental Services Tax revenue to the General Fund. That was originally intended to go back to the Highway Fund at the end of this fiscal year.
Set for a hearing is SB322 to provide 10 percent pay raises for line law enforcement personnel employed by the state and 5 percent for sergeants and above. That measure would require $21 million this coming biennium.
Still waiting for a hearing is SB548 introduced just this week. The bill includes a $33 million appropriation to the Millennium Scholarship program.
Several of the measures processed Wednesday involve purchases of new vehicles by departments including Corrections, Conservation and Natural Resources and parks as well as the state motor pool.
Both Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means were planning to meet more than once Thursday and Friday as well as on Saturday morning.
Still unresolved is the fate of more than 200 other bills that require funding not included in the governor’s recommended budget. Those measures are in the two money committees waiting to see how much uncommitted revenue there is for lawmakers to spend.
Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said during a hearing Wednesday morning he believes there’s upward of $100 million in available cash for some of those measures.
But the governor’s finance office and legislative fiscal staffs have yet to weigh in on that.
Concerned that a spate of COVID-19-related lawsuits could bankrupt businesses, members of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce implored the state’s congressional delegation during the chamber’s annual D.C. retreat to pass a federal liability protection measure.