Lawmakers weigh drastic budget cuts due to COVID-19 shutdown

Local News

CARSON CITY, Nev. (KLAS) — Every state department will be hit hard by proposed budget cuts — all meant to fix the Nevada’s $1.2 billion budget shortfall. This historic crisis is the result of coronavirus closures.

As lawmakers are searching for solutions, Governor Sisolak has ordered bars to close, again.

“We know that additional business closures will further affect our economy and impede our economic recovery,” Governor Sisolak said.

The statewide COVID-19 shutdown is why the Nevada legislature has convened for a special session.

Governor Sisolak’s budget proposal would slash K-12 education funding by more than $150 million. Nevada senators questioned state education leaders Thursday about the specific numbers.

One recommendation many are concerned with is a potential $31 million cut to the “Read by Three” program.

“It hurts deeply to see what we have to do to cut our budget,” said State Senator Chris Brooks “Those who are the most vulnerable in our state and those who can afford to be hurt the least are being hurt the most by this economic disaster and by the public health crisis.”

Hundreds of millions of dollars could also be cut from our state’s healthcare system, meaning major changes to Medicaid.

“There are no good choices,” said Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton.

The Department of Health and Human Services says one option is to eliminate what are labeled as “optional” programs under Medicaid, such as dental care, hospice care and physical therapy.

But some in the assembly see another way out.

“We’re being put in a very awkward position, but there’s a solution,” said Assemblywoman Carlton. “It’s not like there isn’t a solution. We need the federal aid to get to the State to protect the citizens of the State.”

But right now, the funding is far from certain.

“We’ve never quite been in such a bad situation we find ourselves in today,” State Senator Brooks said.

Bill drafts have started to emerge, and budget discussions are expected to continue this weekend.

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