(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Gov. Brian Sandoval said emphatically today he will veto a bill passed by Democrats in the Legislature that would allow school districts to use up to $300 million in bond reserve funds to rehabilitate older schools.
He also expressed confidence that $60 million in general fund Medicaid rate reductions included in his budget are legally defensible and can be implemented despite a legal opinion to the contrary.
Both issues have the potential to throw Sandoval’s proposed two-year, $5.8 billion general fund budget out of balance.
Sandoval, commenting on the issues after a bill signing ceremony, said he understands the desire of lawmakers and school officials to repair older schools. But Assembly Bill 183, which passed the Senate Wednesday on a party-line 11-10 vote, includes no funding plan, he said.
Sandoval has already included the use of the $300 million in bond reserve funds in his budget to fund school operating costs for the next two years.
“Unfortunately the bill does create a $300 million hole in the budget with no plan to fund that,” he said.
The measure has passed the Assembly and Senate with only Democrats in support, not enough votes to override a veto.
Sandoval said he does not believe his impending veto of the measure will sour his relationship with Democrats, who control both the Assembly and Senate.
“We’ve had conversations about that and I think there was an understanding that I had a different position on that bill,” he said.
Following the Senate vote, Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said: “I know the governor wants to create jobs in Nevada. I know he wants to improve education in Nevada, and I know he has seen first-hand the horrible condition of many of our older schools, so I urge him to sign ‘School Works’ and help us save these crumbling schools, create jobs and uphold the will of the voters.”
The proposed Medicaid reductions to health care providers came under scrutiny in the Legislature on Wednesday when lawmakers were given a legal opinion suggesting the cuts would violate federal law.
Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden said however, he believes the cuts can be implemented for the two-year budget.
Sandoval said he is relying on Willden’s assessment of the budget proposal.
“He’s very confident that there hasn’t been anything that would violate the law,” Sandoval said. “We’re very confident that we’re within the boundaries of the law.”