Governor Sisolak releases statement on conclusion of 31st Special Session

CARSON CITY, NV - July 19, 2020

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak released the following statement after the Nevada Legislature adjourned the 31st Special Session to fill a historic $1.2 billion budget shortfall caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic. As the final bills are transmitted to the Governor for signature, he will sign them into law.

The Governor released the following statement:

I appreciate the hard work of the Nevada Legislature during the 31st special session in making the difficult decisions that were necessary to amend the state’s Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget and address the $1.2 billion shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the reductions were restored with limited one-time funding options that were identified and additional Medicaid dollars identified at the start of the session based on just released utilization rates. Yet, with a $1.2 billion shortfall, we know our state will be challenged to provide the essential services Nevadans deserve in health care, education, and so much more.

Legislation passed during the special session includes the requested flexibility to take advantage of any direct federal funding for state governments, if authorized, for this purpose, to replace lost revenue and restore reductions. Flexibility is also included to continue to take advantage of the enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) if it is extended later this month, which could also reduce the impact of the related reductions during this fiscal year.

While all states are facing devastating impacts to their budgets as a result of the COVID-19 recession, Nevada once again finds itself hit the hardest due to an overreliance on an unbalanced revenue structure and the continued need to successfully diversify our economy beyond hospitality and tourism.

As Governor, I have been faced with these budget realities and difficult decisions day in and day out since this global pandemic hit Nevada a little over four months ago in March. I know our lawmakers have also seen the impacts of this virus in their districts, and in this special session they have weighed the magnitude of this situation and its impacts on our State as a whole. Now that the immediate budget crisis has been addressed, we must recommit ourselves to uniting under our shared values and goals.

When faced with these unprecedented challenges, there is an expectation that disagreement will occur. Going forward, we must not focus on what divides us, but commit ourselves to the overwhelming consensus that was expressed by both parties during this session. That there are longstanding, structural problems that must be addressed to ensure Nevada is no longer the most vulnerable state in the nation every time the economy takes a downturn. We owe it to our fellow Nevadans, most importantly our children, to seize this opportunity going forward. I look forward to partnering with legislators and community leaders on this great task ahead of us

We are in a constantly changing, unpredictable economic environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With governors around the country and our state legislators, I will continue to work to protect lives and advocate for federal assistance for the replacement of lost revenue that none of the COVID-19 bills have provided to date. I am grateful for the flexibility under the special session legislation to restore the reductions in whole or in part from any additional revenue that may be generated in this fiscal year.

Background:

Gov. Sisolak called lawmakers into a special session 12 days ago, on July 8, to finalize the necessary reductions while prioritizing resources to protect Nevada’s residents as much as possible.

Prior to the start of the special session, Gov. Sisolak released the Nevada COVID-19 Fiscal Report and details about the Fiscal Year 2021 budget. The document, which can be found here, laid out the proposed reductions, as well as the Governor’s priorities for restorations if additional funding was received from the federal government, if additional revenues were approved by the Legislature or if actual revenues sufficiently exceed current projections.

During the session, the Governor’s Office worked collaboratively with legislative leadership to find an additional $138.6 million in funding, which will help restore the following:

  • $49 million for additional Medicaid services, including dental, hospice services, behavioral health and supporting housing services
  • $514,000 for pediatric intensive care
  • $7.4 million for essential inpatient and outpatient mental health services across southern Nevada, including Behavioral Health Professionals, Crisis Triage Centers, and Housing supports
  • $1.4 million for behavioral health practitioners, intensive case management, and medication clinics in northern Nevada
  • $1.5 million for behavioral health practitioners and housing support programs in rural Nevada
  • $1.8 million for the Teach Nevada program
  • $700,000 for computer science and technology program
  • $25.8 million to reduce the number of furlough days for state employees from 12 to 6 days
  • $14.3 million to reinstate merit pay for state employees
  • $1.4 million to avoid certain state employee layoffs

Additionally, the Governor worked with the Speaker of the Assembly and Majority Leader of the Senate to expedite the delivery of $50 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to the Nevada Department of Education for a new education grant program that will help students most impacted by the loss of in-person instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the State of Nevada receives additional federal funds, lawmakers authorized the State of Nevada to offset revenue shortfalls in Fiscal Year 2020-2021 in the following priorities:

  • New Nevada Education Funding Plan
  • Read by Grade Three
  • Elimination of furlough
  • Any other budgetary reduction

Bill Summary:

Gov. Sisolak has signed three bills so far, is in receipt of one other bill from the Legislature and is awaiting the final budget bill. Bills signed so far include:

  • Senate Bill 1, which revises provisions related to capital improvement projects
  • Senate Bill 2, which temporarily authorizes certain changes to eligibility requirements for the Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship
  • Senate Bill 2

The Governor is in receipt of Senate Bill 3, which temporarily accelerates the collection of a portion of the tax upon the net proceeds of minerals. The Governor intends to sign the bill.

When Assembly Bill 3, which implements the vast majority of the budget changes, is sent to the Governor’s Office, he intends to sign that bill, as well.

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