(Robert Davis) – Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak addressed the economic impacts wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic during his second State of the State address in Tuesday night.
Sisolak praised the efforts of frontline medical workers and said he’s optimistic about the future as the state dedicates more funding to vaccination efforts. However, he acknowledged “we still have a ways to go” before the state’s economy fully recovers.
“Anyone who tells you that COVID-19 is just a public health crisis is wrong. It’s also an economic crisis and a fiscal crisis,” he said, noting that over 250,000 Nevadans were laid off at the beginning of the pandemic.
“We’re dependent on hospitality for a big part of our economy,” Sisolak said. “When travel stops, hotel rooms go empty. When showrooms close and our convention business and tourism shuts down, it hits our state harder than any state in the nation.”
“That makes me more determined than ever to get our world-leading hospitality industry opened and our workers back on the job,” he added.
Ahead of the address, Sisolak released his proposed $8.68 billion budget which would restore many of the cuts to Medicaid and K-12 programs that legislators made over the summer, even though the state’s general fund showed a 2% budget decrease from the previous year.
The budget would restore the 6% rate reduction for Medicaid and NV Check Up providers, which saved the state $53 million when it was cut over the summer. The Nevada Hospital Association estimated the cuts could cost state hospitals $100 million a year in payments and another $500 million on uncompensated care.
K-12 programs would receive the largest appropriation over the biennial, totaling $6.63 billion, a $50 million decrease over the current biennium. Of that, $4.9 billion comes from state funds while the remainder comes from local funds.
The budget includes $226 million in a one-time injection, $50 million of which would be used to assist small businesses, Sisolak’s office said in the press release. An additional $342 million in supplemental appropriations is needed to complete this fiscal year.
“This disease has touched us all,” Sisolak said Tuesday. “But I know this: Nevadans are battle born. We face our challenges head on. We will get through this difficult time together. Because the state of our state is determined, resilient and strong.”