Lawmakers Begin Budget Hearings

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Lawmakers Begin Budget Hearings

Govpresser

Brandon Rittiman / KUNR

The news media questions Gov. Brian Sandoval and his staffers shortly after Monday's State of the State Address.

For complete coverage of the Nevada legislature, visit sessionaccess.org - a joint service of Northern Nevada's public broadcast stations.

The first of the budget hearings was something of a repeat for Governor Sandoval's budget expert Andrew Clinger and Chief of Staff Heidi Gansert.

On Monday they explained their budget proposals in a Q & A session with the news media. Tuesday, they started explaining it to leading lawmakers, who asked many of the same questions.

Democrats were not shy about openly criticizing the budget cuts being proposed, particularly to education and health and human services.

The Governor's office justified some of the things it's doing, like taking property tax money from the counties, by saying the counties are already used to dealing with it.

But that was supposed to be a temporary measure.

That line of thinking got Senate Majority leader Stephen Horsford wondering why the Governor didn't also want to keep the tax increases from last time going...

Horsford:  "If you're using the logic of ‘we did this before,' you're picking and choosing which things you're choosing to continue and which things you're not."

To which Clinger essentially responded: Yes. We are.

Clinger: "It's about choices and trying to make the best choices to put together the best budget that we can within the existing resources that we have."

Some lawmakers were pleased with some of those choices, like funding the Millennium Scholarship for a few more years. But they're going to be asking tougher questions Wednesday and Thursdayas they get into the education cuts on the table.

One thing's for certain, Democrats will set out to make big changes to the governor's proposed budget when the session begins Monday after next.