COVID-19 Budget Crisis | KUNR

COVID-19 Budget Crisis

Updated at 2:31 p.m. ET

The House quickly approved a budget resolution intended to speed the drafting of President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

The Senate approved the same budget resolution early Friday morning. With the Senate evenly divided, Vice President Harris cast the tiebreaking vote.

Tax revenues in Nevada have declined during the pandemic, which may soon force lawmakers to make some tough decisions in the months ahead, such as possibly making cuts to state services or even raising taxes. To get a sense of how this legislative session may impact the state’s business community, KUNR’s Paul Boger spoke with Ann Silver, who runs the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

Updated 5:06 p.m. ET

On Friday afternoon, President-Elect Joe Biden shared a detailed plan to tackle the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, promising to fight the pandemic with "the full strength of the federal government."

In a speech in Delaware, Biden laid out his five-part plan for how to speed up the vaccination campaign: Open up vaccine eligibility to more people; create more vaccination sites; increase vaccine supply; hire a vaccination workforce; and launch a large-scale public education campaign.

Updated at 8:37 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden outlined his plans for economic relief from the coronavirus crisis on Thursday, citing the need for a more robust vaccination plan as well as for additional direct payments to American families to help recover the U.S. economy. His plan, called the American Rescue Plan, is expected to cost $1.9 trillion.

States only have a few weeks left to spend federal COVID-19 relief funds, which is spurring lawmakers around the Mountain West to pass major aid deals now.

Updated at 11:58 a.m. ET

After months of partisan standoff on Capitol Hill over the size and composition of another round of coronavirus relief, key signs of progress emerged as the House and Senate moved closer to a possible deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spoke by telephone Thursday afternoon — notable because the two top leaders hadn't spoken about legislation addressing the pandemic since the election.

A federal program called Pandemic EBT has been a lifeline for many low-income families recently. But unless Congress acts, it’ll expire at the end of the month.


Woman standing in front of a closed building
Daniel Clark / The Nevada Independent

As Nevada’s unemployment crisis heads into its sixth month, some claimants are still in limbo in a system swamped by more than a million applications for benefits. There’s been a lawsuit. There’s also been new legislation passed in a special session.

A new report shows that the COVID-19 recession has households in the Mountain West facing high hardship rates, especially when it comes to rent and food security.


Daniel Bear lives in Kenilworth, Utah, a small community of around 200 people between Salt Lake City and Moab. Earlier this year, Bear suffered a woodworking accident that involved his hand and a tablesaw. It was messy.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

The U.S.-Canada border crossing north of Eureka, Mont., is quiet these days. No buses or vans packed with mountain bikes and vacationing families. Just a single logging truck. 

"No traffic hardly at all," says David Clarke, owner of the First & Last Chance Bar and Duty Free Store.

Two rows of long, curved tables with people in professional attire, wearing masks, sitting in front of them. The point of view is from above and to the side.
David Calvert / Nevada Independent

Lawmakers in Nevada ended their special session to address the state's massive budget shortfall over the weekend, passing just five bills in 12 days. To help us break down that legislation, and what it means for the state, we turn now to KUNR's Paul Boger and Lucia Starbuck, who covered the session in its entirety.

A graphic from the Nevada Housing Division showing an umbrella protecting a house from a storm. The graphic reads "If you're struggling to pay rent due to COVID-19, there is help."
The Nevada Housing Authority via The Nevada State Treasurer's Office

Starting Monday, Nevadans who find themselves late on their rent payments can apply for assistance through a newly created state-run rent relief program. KUNR’s Paul Boger spoke with State Treasurer Zach Conine about the program and how it may help hundreds of thousands of people who may have fallen behind on their rent. 

A mother sits with her three toddler sons, posing for a photo.
Jennifer Cantley

Nevada spends about one-third of its general fund on public health programs like Medicaid and mental health services. But, in order to address a massive budget shortfall created by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers must cut around $233 million from public health services.

Governor Steve Sisolak sits at a podium at the state legislature.
Lucia Starbuck / This Is Reno

Lawmakers in Nevada are slated to gavel into a special session Wednesday morning to address a looming budget crisis. According to a report released by the Governor’s Office, Nevada is looking at a $1.2 billion deficit in the state’s general fund. 

A receptionist checking in a patient at a doctor’s office.
Jeff Scheid / The Nevada Independent

Lee en español.

A majority of Nevada doctors believe they can only keep their doors open for another two to six months unless the volume of patients trickling back into their offices significantly increases, according to a new survey from the American Medical Association.

El Gobernador de Nevada Steve Sisolak durante una conferencia de prensa.
Jeff Scheid / The Nevada Independent

Read in English.

El Gobernador de Nevada Steve Sisolak dice que propondrá permisos de un día al mes sin goce de sueldo para los empleados estatales, así como congelar aumentos salariales por mérito y efectuar al menos 50 despidos para atender el déficit presupuestario relacionado con la pandemia en el estado.

Governor Steve Sisolak is standing behind a podium during a press conference.
Jeff Scheid / The Nevada Independent

Lee en español.

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.

A state-by-state chart showing the various preparedness levels for each state government.
Moody's Analytics

Forty-two states are not prepared for a pandemic-induced recession. That’s the finding of a recent analysis from Moody’s Analytics. In the Mountain West, the prognosis isn’t as bad as it might seem at first.

The Nevada Legislative building
Alexa Ard / KUNR Public Radio

Nevada is facing a budget crisis. According to estimates, sales and gaming taxes fell drastically during the state’s COVID-19 related shutdown in March and April, leaving a gaping budget hole for the current fiscal year ending June 30. So, how are lawmakers and others addressing the issue?