The Governor's Proposed Budget & What It Means to Us

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Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons is proposing what I consider to be the most outrageous, deficient and insulting budget I can imagine.  The 2870 page document is available here.  Many of his proposed cuts will have a direct impact upon criminal justice issues - both in the short and long terms.

The Governor proposes that state employees take the brunt of the budget cuts: by a 6% reduction in pay, elimination of merit increases and longevity pay.  State employees would also pay more for insurance benefits.  The Governor also proposes a substantial reallocation of some property tax funds from Washoe and Clark County.  If those are approved, additional cuts in county budgets could also have a significant impact on the courts, public defenders, the detention center, mental health treatment, and other programs paid for by the counties.

The Nevada Supreme Court proposed budget is at page 255 of the PDF (Courts - 1 in the document).  The proposed budget shows a drastic cut in the budge for Information Services.  The amount in 2007-08 was $628,178.  The Court's request is for $160,034, and the Governor proposes $177,023, for 2009-10.  The Court requested $20,401 for training of legal staff, the Governor proposes $10,300.  The Court requests $113,333 for funding in order to complete a case management system, which the Governor proposes to fund as a re-appropriation from funds not previously spent.  The Governor's plan to suspend merit increases results $19,616 less for 2009-10 and $55,468 less ofr 2010-11.  The longevity payments suspension would mean $18,800 less in 2009-10 and $21,150 less for 2010-11.  Cuts in the insurance subsidy to current and retirmed employees would result in a reduction of $178,850 for 2009-10 and $226,270 for 2010-11.

The Governor does not propose cuts in district court judge salaries.  Their budget is at page 264 of the PDF (Court - 10 in the document).  He proposes a reduction in the amount allocated to senior judges of $147,456 below that requested by the courts and approximately $300,000 less than the amount spent this year on senior judges.  With a whole new batch of senior judges adding to the existing roles, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

The law school had a proposed budget of $14,365,171, but the Governor recommends a budget of $12,688,982 for 2009-10.  The budget is at page 783 of the PDF (NSHE - 89 in the document).

The State Public Defender's budget is at page 1404 of the PDF (DHHS Director's Ofc - 43 in the document).  The current budget is $2,665,016.  The Governor proposes $2,666,269 for 2009-10 and $2,700,503 for 2010-11.  These small increases reflect that the funding needed for indigent defense, especially in the rural counties, will not increase in any meaningful manner, as mandated by the Indigent Defense Commission and its performance standards.

The Governor proposes the closure of the Nevada State Prison on July 1, 2009 and notes that this will eliminate 10 medical staff positions and result in a budget reduction of approximately $1,000,000.  This is at page 2100 of the PDF (Corrections - 13).  It does not appear that additional medical positions will be added at other prisons which will take the inmates from NSP - despite the existing lawsuit and enormous concerns over prison medical care.  He proposes adding approximately 150 inmates to Ely State Prison, but allocates no new funds for them.  Instead, he claims the cost per inmate will drop from $68.25 per day to $60.75 per day.  This is nuts.  Other prisons reflect similar increases in inmate population, decreases in cost per inmate per day, and no explanation as to how this is possible other than a much lower guard per inmate ratio - which is a significant issue of public safety at many of the facilities. 

While substantial cuts are being imposed, the Governor proposes increases in the budgets of other departments.  Some of the increases are beyond puzzling.  For example, at page 144 of the PDF (Elected - 105 in the document), is the proposed budget for the Council for Prosecuting Attorneys.  The Council develops training for prosecutors, coordinates the development of policies for conducting criminal and civil litigation and coordinates proposed legislation.  Most of the funding comes from court assessments, but there is no reason that this funding could not be sent to more critical functions of state government.  The 2007-08 budget was $221,066.  The agency requested $255,200 for 2009-10, but the Governor, despite cutting many other areas, proposes a budget of $269,580.  Likewise, the Governor recommends $264,445 for 2010-11, nearly $30,000 more than the agency's proposed budge of $235,597.  I'm not opposed to DA training, but this is a function that can easily be performed in-house within the DA's existing budget during times of financial crisis.

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This page contains a single entry by JoNell published on January 16, 2009 8:27 AM.

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