CARSON CITY - There will be no fee increases of any kind in Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval's budget when it is presented to lawmakers next year, Chief of Staff Heidi Gansert has confirmed.
"Given the state of our economy, the governor-elect has decided there will be no new fees or taxes in the budget," she said. "We don't want any obstacles to an economic recovery. We want as much money as possible spent in the private sector."
Gansert said Sandoval's staff is working with Budget Director Andrew Clinger to go through the budget prepared by outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons in-depth to ensure any fee increases included in the plan are eliminated.
Gansert was asked to comment about the potential of fee increases in Sandoval's budget after Robin Reedy, chief of staff to Gibbons, said a case could be made to seek fee increases for services provided by the state that are not fully covered by current assessments.
Reedy talked about the potential for fee increases in Sandoval's budget in an interview Tuesday on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.
Reedy said she believes the next two-year budget can be balanced without new taxes, but added: "A lot of people confuse taxes and fees. And I am not one to say, and this is where the governor (Gibbons) and I do tend to disagree and we have our debates, is a fee is not a tax. If a fee is for a service that is basically helping a segment of either society or business, capitalism means they should pay that cost of doing business.
"So there are fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles and various other areas that deal with either car sales or other areas that are business, that what they pay in fees do not compensate what we pay in salaries and the cost of doing business," Reedy said. "The government should not be subsidizing any part of the economy."
Reedy said it will be up to Sandoval and his administration, however, to determine whether to include fee increases in the budget.
But Gansert made it clear that Sandoval's budget won't include fee increases.
"We've ruled out new fees and taxes," she said.
Sandoval said in an interview earlier this year that a major focus of his administration will be on job creation to get Nevada's economy on track, and that any tax or fee increases in his budget would only harm that effort.
"Raising taxes and fees is the worst thing we can do when our economy is struggling," he said.
Sandoval's position is at odds with some lawmakers who have suggested tax increases will be needed to balance the state budget.
The National Conference of State Legislatures recently reported that Nevada will have the largest percentage general fund budget gap of any state in both fiscal year 2012 and 2013.
The Nevada Economic Forum projected the state general fund would see $5.3 billion in revenues in the coming two years, well below current spending levels because of the loss of federal stimulus funds and temporary taxes that will expire on June 30, 2011.
Sandoval said after the projection was made Dec. 1 that the revenue level would require agencies to cut $1.2 billion from already reduced budgets submitted this fall to Gibbons.
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