CARSON CITY, Nev. (KLAS) — The Nevada Senate has unanimously passed a budget bill to address the state’s historic $1.2 billion budget shortfall, caused by the coronavirus shutdown. This comes after the Nevada Assembly passed the bill, which includes cuts to every state department.
The bill does, however, save some health care programs, reduce the number of furlough days for state employees and gives $50 million in federal CARES Act funding to K-12 education. This is for alternative programs to help underserved students directly impacted by COVID-19.
Governor Steve Sisolak had originally planned to call an immediate second special session to discuss criminal justice reform and unemployment insurance barriers, but because of the spike of COVID-19 cases in Nevada, he does not want to put lawmakers at risk.
Governor Sisolak released the following statement Saturday night:
I appreciate the hard work of the Nevada Legislature during the 31st special session in making the difficult decisions that were necessary to amend the state’s Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget and address the $1.2 billion shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the reductions were restored with limited one-time funding options that were identified and additional Medicaid dollars identified at the start of the session based on just released utilization rates. Yet, with a $1.2 billion shortfall, we know our state will be challenged to provide the essential services Nevadans deserve in health care, education, and so much more.
Legislation passed during the special session includes the requested flexibility to take advantage of any direct federal funding for state governments, if authorized, for this purpose, to replace lost revenue and restore reductions. Flexibility is also included to continue to take advantage of the enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) if it is extended later this month, which could also reduce the impact of the related reductions during this fiscal year.
While all states are facing devastating impacts to their budgets as a result of the COVID-19 recession, Nevada once again finds itself hit the hardest due to an overreliance on an unbalanced revenue structure and the continued need to successfully diversify our economy beyond hospitality and tourism.
As Governor, I have been faced with these budget realities and difficult decisions day in and day out since this global pandemic hit Nevada a little over four months ago in March. I know our lawmakers have also seen the impacts of this virus in their districts, and in this special session they have weighed the magnitude of this situation and its impacts on our State as a whole. Now that the immediate budget crisis has been addressed, we must recommit ourselves to uniting under our shared values and goals.
When faced with these unprecedented challenges, there is an expectation that disagreement will occur. Going forward, we must not focus on what divides us, but commit ourselves to the overwhelming consensus that was expressed by both parties during this session. That there are longstanding, structural problems that must be addressed to ensure Nevada is no longer the most vulnerable state in the nation every time the economy takes a downturn. We owe it to our fellow Nevadans, most importantly our children, to seize this opportunity going forward. I look forward to partnering with legislators and community leaders on this great task ahead of us.
We are in a constantly changing, unpredictable economic environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With governors around the country and our state legislators, I will continue to work to protect lives and advocate for federal assistance for the replacement of lost revenue that none of the COVID-19 bills have provided to date. I am grateful for the flexibility under the special session legislation to restore the reductions in whole or in part from any additional revenue that may be generated in this fiscal year.Governor Steve Sisolak
8 News Now will have more information on the bill later Sunday night.