LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo signed another important budget bill on Thursday, bringing 12% raises to state employees starting in July.

Assembly Bill 522 (AB522) covers compensation for state employees, providing raises that had been proposed before lawmakers convened to help make up for wide differences in pay between Nevada and other states.

In a tweet just before 5 p.m., Lombardo said, “This afternoon I signed AB 522, the state employee pay bill. I’m proud that this legislation provides essential raises for state employees over the next biennium. Our state employees are deserving of these raises, and I’m grateful we were able to deliver this critical bill.”

The bill goes beyond Lombardo’s proposed 8% raise with another 4% raise next year. Democratic lawmakers built on that plan by increasing it to 12% in the 2023-2024 fiscal year — a 50% increase over Lombardo’s proposal. Democrats changed the structure of the governor’s proposed bonuses and added more permanent pay increases.

During budget hearings earlier in the session, Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno (D-Las Vegas) said she felt a responsibility to do what’s right for “our employees.”

At the conclusion of that hearing, Rick McCann, retired executive director of the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, led others in a standing ovation for lawmakers.

The state has been struggling to fill positions, with a job vacancy rate around 20%. This budget contains quarterly bonuses for employees of $250 to help retain staff on top of the 12% raise. Longevity pay is also part of the compensation plan after it was removed in lean budget years after the Great Recession.

Some of the raises the first year will vary between 10% and 13% depending on positions. Collective bargaining plays into the level of some raises.

Other elements of AB522 will bring a two-grade pay increase for members of law enforcement under the Department of Public Safety, and an infusion of money to pay higher salaries in the Nevada System of Higher Education.

The ice broke in Carson City when Gov. Joe Lombardo signed his school safety bill late Wednesday night.

It marked a turnaround after a standoff with lawmakers over Lombardo’s legislative priorities. And it set the stage for the governor to sign the biggest education budget in the state’s history. Now, there’s movement on other budgets.

Lawmakers have a lot of work to do before the session ends Monday night, but there may be enough time to get all the work done. Among the biggest bills left to tackle:

  • SB504: Budget for state agencies
  • AB519: Capital projects for school districts
  • AB521: Capital projects
  • SB509: Funding plan for the A’s stadium in Las Vegas
  • SB496: “The Film Bill” with tax breaks to attract movie studios

Lombardo stated his priorities early in the session and tensions grew as lawmakers acted on budget bills without taking up his proposals. His priorities are a fiscally responsible budget, school safety, school choice and accountability, government efficiency and crime reduction.

School choice might be the next topic that comes up, but Democrats in the Legislature have been opposed to allocating public money to anything but public schools.

With school safety off the list, little has been said about the remaining items on his list.