Nevada Budget Cuts Could Affect Public Safety, Health and Education - 8 News NOW

Nevada Budget Cuts Could Affect Public Safety, Health and Education

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Gov. Jim Gibbons Gov. Jim Gibbons

Governor Jim Gibbons is laying the groundwork for another round of budget cuts that could come as early as next week. The governor meets with legislative leaders on Monday to get their input.

Nevada's governor says no final numbers are out and no final decisions have been made yet about any additional budget cuts. But given current economic indicators -- it's becoming clear that the state's revenue shortfall is much larger than the $565 million originally projected in January. And that likely means the budget ax is being sharpened.

As gaming and sales tax revenues continue to fall below last year's figures -- Governor Jim Gibbons faces some tough decisions ahead -- which is why he's meeting with key legislative leaders on Monday.

"To come to a consensus on where we need to go and share ideas back and fourth about how the state should deal with this," said Ben Kieckhefer, Governor Gibbons' press secretary.

While speculation grows that layoffs of some state employees are inevitable, the governor's office says that is a last resort option. "What we don't need is more people in the state leaving the workforce," said Kieckhefer.

So that likely means a second round of budget cuts -- a thought that makes the Clark County School District's chief financial officer, Jeff Weiler, cringe. "Eighty five percent of our budget is salary and benefits."

Which leaves very little wiggle room for cuts.

Jeff Weiler says the district is still reeling from the $66 million it already eliminated from the budget in January -- by delaying full-day kindergarten, more empowerment schools and other programs designed to boost student achievement.

Parent and president of Nevadans for Quality Education, Mary Jo Parise-Malloy, says Gibbons needs to look elsewhere for the money.

"We already have a shortage of teachers because we can't afford to pay them enough, and we're just getting deeper and deeper in the hole and our per-pupil funding gets farther and father away from the national average every year," she said.

In this very uncertain economic time, only one thing seems sure --- Governor Gibbons has no intention of raising taxes.

"There are people losing their homes and paying nearly $4 for a gallon of gas and $5 for a gallon of milk, so when people are struggling to make ends meet on their own, it would be irresponsible for government to make it even more difficult on them," said Kieckhefer.

Clark County School District superintendent Walt Rulffes met with the governor Tuesday -- but was reportedly given no specifics nor any reassurances that our public schools would be spared from another round of budget cuts.

Email your comments to Reporter Alyson McCarthy.

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