(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Taxpayers interested in the budget and tax decisions made by the 2009 Legislature will soon have a new tool at their disposal with the release of the Nevada Legislative Appropriations Report.
The 331-page report provides detail on the two-year spending plan approved earlier this year by lawmakers over the objections of Gov. Jim Gibbons, who vetoed many of the tax and budget bills. It is prepared every two years by the Legislature’s Fiscal Analysis Division.
The report shows the Legislature approved a $6.55 billion general fund budget for the current two fiscal years that began July 1, down from the $7.08 billion budget approved for the prior two years for a 7.5 percent reduction in authorized spending.
The budget for this year, Fiscal Year 2009-2010, is $180 million more in operating funds than recommended by Gibbons. The 2010-2011 budget is $194 million more.
Public education was a winner in the new budget, receiving 39.6 percent of the total compared to 37.1 percent in the 2007-09 budget cycle. Higher education saw its funding drop from 18.6 percent in the previous budget to 15.3 percent in this biennium.
Human services also gained, from 27.2 percent of total general fund spending in the previous budget to 29.4 percent in the new budget. Public safety lost ground, going from 9.4 percent of the total to 8.5 percent.
The totals do not include federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. A separate section of the report details this source of funding, which is expected to total about $2.2 billion.
On the revenue side, the Legislature approved a package of tax increases that are projected to bring in $780 million over the current two years. The package included increases in the sales and use tax, room tax, modified business tax, governmental services tax and the short-term car rental tax. Most of these tax increases are set to expire on June 30, 2011 unless they are reauthorized by the 2011 Legislature.
Total revenue enhancements approved by the Legislature were $1.3 billion, and included the use of Clark and Washoe county property taxes to supplement the state general fund budget.
Gibbons, at his own request, saw five vacant positions in his office eliminated, leaving a total of 17.5 total positions for the biennium.
Overall, 748 state government positions were eliminated by the Legislature for the current budget compared to the previous budget, not counting higher education. The total state workforce, including higher education, totals 25,779 in this budget compared to the 27,025 positions that were approved in the prior budget.
Gibbons vetoed 48 bills in the 2009 session, the most in the state’s history. The Legislature overrode 25 of the vetoes with a two-thirds vote in each house. The prior record was 38 vetoes in 1865, with 11 overridden by the Legislature. Prior to 2009, the last veto override occurred in 1989.
The report will be available to the public on the Legislature’s website, but not until early next week.