Nevada's Fiscal Woes Among Worst

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada's economic downturn now ranks as
one of the worst among the 50 states, according to a National Conference of State Legislatures report.

The report said tax revenue in Nevada fell by 7 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30 compared with the previous year. That put Nevada in third place among the 17 states that reported revenue declines. Oregon leads with a 7.5 percent drop, followed by Florida with a 7.3 percent decline.

While California reported a $4.5 billion decline in revenue, that represented 4.5 percent of its expected revenue total.

The state with the most severe state government spending problem may be Arizona, which reported a 14.1 percent "revenue gap." Nevada was second at 11.4 percent. The gap represents the percentage difference between available tax revenue and planned general fund spending.

Since November, Nevada has cut spending in its two-year budget that ends next June 30 by $1.2 billion, or 17.7 percent of its $6.8 billion two-year budget.

Twenty-eight states, including Nevada, expect further declines in the current fiscal year, according to the NCSL report released Wednesday. Only 13 states expect their revenue to increase in that period.

"We are all going through the same problems," said Ben Kieckhefer, spokesman for Gov. Jim Gibbons. He added that the governor remains opposed to any tax increase as a way to help the state out of its financial problems.

The NCSL said the few exceptions are states that have a big part of their revenues tied to natural resources, such as North Dakota and Alaska. Both states have abundant oil and gas resources, and North Dakota agriculture has been flourishing because of the use of corn in generating ethanol, a gasoline additive.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)