LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Nevada lawmakers descended on Carson City Wednesday to begin making large adjustments to a huge state budget deficit.
State officials estimate a $1.15 billion deficit in the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The deficit was previously estimated at $1.2 billion.
The special session ceremoniously began at 9 a.m. Wednesday, though official meetings didn't begin until closer to 10 a.m. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, plexiglass dividers were installed in Senate and Assembly chambers, masks were required and lobbyists and public comment were not allowed inside the legislative building. As a result, multiple rallies took place outdoors.
Nev. Assembly member Steve Yeager receives a health screening from Pfc. Michael Marquez of Task Force 422 today in Carson City in advance of the legislature’s special session. @NVNationalGuard will screen legislators each day of the session. #inthistogether pic.twitter.com/Kd4h9wCXaw— Nevada Guard (@NVNationalGuard) July 8, 2020
Nevada National Guard provided screenings for lawmakers outside the legislative building before sessions got underway.
SENATE GENERAL FUND MEETING
The Senate kicked off the day with a meeting on the general fund budget shortfalls. The meeting did not include any proposed cuts for the Distributive School Account, which includes funding for K-12 education and Nevada System of Higher Education.
Proposed cuts include:
- Charter school loan program: $400,000
- Education trust fund $375,000
- Promise Scholarship: about $1 million
- School remediation trust: $1.6 million
- Millennium scholarship fund: $2 million
- Disaster relief account: $7 million
- Multiple contingency funds for items like Marsy's Law, Supreme Court case management system
State and NSHE furloughs were projected to save $51.7 million. Merit salary freezes were projected to save $14.3 million. Proposed budget changes total more than $934 million.
ASSEMBLY EDUCATION MEETING
Later in the morning, the Assembly met to discuss education budget shortfalls facing the state. The meeting began with public comment from community leaders and educators.
The Nevada State Education Association called in to public comment as they rallied outdoors. Multiple callers requested the legislature look for ways to create revenue rather than cutting money from K-12 and higher education.
According to presentation documents, proposed cuts to the Nevada Department of Education include a one-third reduction in travel, a reduction in school resource officers or school police officers, a reduction in incentives for teachers at Title I schools and a reduction in funding for social and emotional learning.
The Assembly was expected to receive presentations from the state finance office, Clark County School District Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara and NSHE Chancellor Thom Reilly.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.