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Governor Jim Gibbons has urged Nevada lawmakers to approve nearly $7 billion in state spending for the next two fiscal years -- a record sum that calls for no new taxes and slightly cuts the percentage of education funding to increase the percentage for public safety and human services programs.
The proposed general fund spending, up 18-percent over spending in the current two-year budget cycle, was outlined as the newly elected Republican governor delivered his first State of the State speech to legislators.
When the general fund dollars are added to federal funds and other revenue sources, the total spending for ongoing government programs in what Gibbons termed his "power of partnership" plan hits $18 billion. That overall figure is up 15-percent over the current two-year budget cycle.
The governor said his proposals can be accomplished, quote, "all without raising taxes. Some have reported it as radical. I consider it responsible."
The biggest expenditure in the proposed budget is for the state's K-12 schools and university-community college system. That funding would increase some $495 million over current spending, to $3.6 billion.
The K-12 funding includes $60 million for a 100-school pilot program that lets parents pick the schools they want their children to attend, and lets school administrators and teachers tailor classes for what Gibbons called "their own unique population of students."
The 53-percent total of all general fund dollars for education is slightly less than the percentage for education that legislators approved for the current two-year budget cycle. Gibbons balked at funding full-day kindergarten, putting him on a collision course with legislative Democrats who want it.
Gibbons' plan also would allocate 29-percent of the funds to human services, including Medicaid and mental health services, for a total of $2 billion.
Ten percent of the state general fund revenues would be used for public safety, including the state's prison system. Gibbons wants to expand some prison facilities to handle a growing inmate population, and hire more than 330 new prison guards.
The balance of the spending in the governor's tentative budget would go to commerce and industry-related agencies, constitutional offices and other special-service government operations.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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