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UPDATE: Nevada faces $1.2B budget shortfall ahead of special legislative session on Wednesday

Posted at 6:36 AM, Jul 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 18:35:43-04

UPDATE JULY 7: The coronavirus closure of business in Nevada is forcing the Nevada Legislature into special session on Wednesday to deal with a historic $1.2 billion budget shortfall.

State Senator and Chair of the Senate Finance Committee Joyce Woodhouse says the task facing lawmakers is one that will gut government agencies built up since the 2008 Great Recession.

"It's devastating," she says, "the revenue just left, so now we're looking at 25% of the budget being gone."

Governor Steve Sisolak's budget adjustment proposal presented on Monday included deep cuts to several government agencies and services including funding for K-12 education, higher education, and the Department of Health and Human Services including Medicaid.

13 Action News Financial Analyst Steve Budin says there are few options left for legislators.

"At the end of the day, there are really only two options," he says, "you have to increase revenue in the form of new taxes, or you have to cut your spending."

Woodhouse said tax increases are on the table at the upcoming special session, but they wouldn't come in the form of new taxes.

She says to help with the current budget shortfall any increase would have to come as an adjustment to existing taxes.

"There will be conversations," she says.

In his budget proposal to the legislature, the report indicated Sisolak would be open to a tax increase if passed by lawmakers.

"If the Legislature is able to move a revenue package forward, with the two thirds vote required*, the Governor is willing to consider the legislation under the parameters outlined above," the report read.

One main call in the report, from the governor, and from legislators is the need for more financial assistance from the federal government that could be used to fill large budget shortfalls.

"I have my fingers and toes crossed and I'm saying my prayers every night that we will get some support from the federal government," Woodhouse says.

Nevada's U.S. Representative Dina Titus, (D) District 1, says congressional Democrats have been trying to push for legislation, like the Heroes Act passed in the House in May, that would provide aid for municipalities at every level.

The Heroes Act has stalled in the Senate.

"We are pushing the Senate to move," Titus said, "Governors and mayors from the republican and democratic party are telling the Senate, we need this funding."

Woodhouse says the legislature would be making deep cuts in the special legislative session regardless of aid from the federal government.

She says the only thing federal aid would do now is allow them to restore cut programs when, and if, the aid arrives.

ORIGINAL STORY: We are less than 24 hours away from a historic special session of the Nevada legislature as lawmakers look to close an unprecedented $1.2 billion dollar budget shortfall.

The shortfall represents nearly a quarter of the state's budget for this fiscal year, which began just days ago.


On Monday, Gov. Steve Sisolak sent his budget cut wish list to the legislature.

The cuts are deep.

They include slashing $549 million from government agencies, including the Department of Higher Education and K-12 schools, furloughs for state employees, hiring freezes and more.

13 HELP | List of resources during pandemic

One thing that isn't in the proposal is tax increases, but Gov. Sisolak left that door open if legislators want to go that route.

Stay with 13 Action News for updates on the massive budget shortfall and the upcoming special session on Wednesday.