Sandoval proposes $6.5B general fund budget

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2013 at 10:05 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013
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Expanding Medicaid as called for under the federal Affordable Care Act, along with normal caseload growth, will cost the state an extra $138 million over the next two years, budget officials said.

Sandoval said expanding Medicaid will allow the state to shift mental health costs for mental health programs to the federal government, saving the state about $25 million over the biennium.

"Over the next six years, this comprehensive approach will create up to 8,000 new health care jobs," he said in his State of the State speech. He said his budget also includes more money for autism and early intervention services, as well as an urgent mental health clinic in Las Vegas.

State employees, who have taken pay cuts and furloughs since 2009, would get some relief under Sandoval's budget. Merit pay increases would be restored next year, and required furlough days would be reduced from six per year to three beginning July 1 at a cost of $40 million.

Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said while Sandoval's proposed reductions in furloughs for state workers was welcome, "it restores less than one-fourth of their pay and benefits."

"We can't continue to ask our employees to do more with less, or else we risk our ability to recruit and retain our valuable public employees," he said.

On the governor's education proposals, Denis said, "A quality education and paying their fair share are two of the biggest issues facing our middle class, and yet our schools are not providing the tools our children need to succeed, and the middle class are asked to pay more than their fair share to support our state's budget."

The Legislature convenes Feb. 4.