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Sisolak Proposes Monthly Furlough Day, Merit Pay Freeze, State Employee Layoffs Due To Budget Gap

Governor Steve Sisolak is standing behind a podium during a press conference.
Jeff Scheid
The Nevada Independent
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak during a news conference updating the latest Coronavirus outbreak on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

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Gov. Steve Sisolak says he’ll propose furloughs of one day a month for state employees, as well as a freeze in merit salary raises and fewer than 50 layoffs to help address the state’s pandemic-related budget shortfall.

Sisolak sent an email and video message to state employees on Thursday morning. In it, he details a shortfall of nearly $900 million in the fiscal year set to end June 30, and then another revenue shortfall of $1.3 billion the next fiscal year, out of an annual general fund budget of about $4.5 billion.

“It is with a heavy heart I must propose these actions,” Sisolak said in the message, noting he will continue to work with the federal government to secure more relief and preserve public services. “I know for many state employees, layoffs, furloughs, and budget cuts are all too familiar and create tremendous hurdles in the work of serving our State.”

Shutdowns of non-essential businesses aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, including 11 weeks of a total shutdown of gaming, has dramatically suppressed revenue flowing into the state’s general fund. Lawmakers have applied more than $400 million from the state’s rainy-day reserve fund to address the matter, and the state has secured $1.25 billion from the federal government to support hard-hit state and local agencies.

Sisolak had already asked agencies to propose two rounds of budget cuts in response. He unveiled a plan on Tuesday to revise the budget and close a gap of several hundred million dollars.

He said his staff has made it a priority to reduce layoffs and whittled the list of about 450 anticipated layoffs to less than 50, although he didn’t reveal where the reductions would happen. Hundreds of empty positions are being kept vacant in the coming fiscal year to preserve existing jobs, he said.

State employees’ health and retirement benefits will not be affected, he said.

Visit The Nevada Independent for the complete story.

As a note of disclosure, the Board of Regents to the Nevada System of Higher Education holds the license to KUNR, and all KUNR staff members are employees of the state.

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