Governor threatens again to veto state budget

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 4:13 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -With less than two weeks left in the 2023 legislative session, assembly and senate majority leaders released their budget for the biennium.

Senator Nicole Cannizzaro and Speaker Steve Yeager say there are historic investments in education, health care, public safety, state workers and capital improvements.

“We have to leave here with a budget that delivers for Nevadans,” says Senator Cannizzaro. “That is something that is recognized by myself, the speaker, and also the governor to a certain extent.”

The senator points to education appropriation bills which spend nearly $12 billion dollars.

Per-pupil spending has increased, there are educator professional development funds, and raises for teachers based upon what school districts decide.

“I think any way you slice it, there is adequate money, sufficient money for teachers to be taken care of and appreciated,” says Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager. “Not just teachers, education support professionals across the board.”

Under appropriation bills public safety will receive more money including the Nevada Highway Patrol who announced troopers would not be able to patrol Washoe County for three hours every day because of staffing shortages.

Health Care appropriation bills make further investments in Medicaid which covers nearly one in three Nevadans. $250 million will go to adult mental health services statewide.

State workers can expect 10-to-12% pay increases. The funds will represent nearly a 25% take home pay increase by the end of 2024.

Capital improvements include money for the Veterans Home in Northern Nevada, and $3.5 million dollars for the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

Within two hours of the conference, Governor Joe Lombardo repeated his threat of a veto unless his priorities are addressed.

Senate Minority Leader Heidi Seevers Gansert says one of those priorities is school choice.

“I know he cares that families have a choice when it comes to public schools, public charter schools, or potentially the low- income families that are looking for something that may be a private school,” says Senator Seevers Gansert. “He asked for a small amount of money to go the “Opportunity Scholarship” to go families again, that are low income that believes their student needs to go to a different school.”

Senator Seevers Gansert also points to a student discipline bill which has received a hearing but has not landed on the Governor’s desk. The governor has also asked for a change in Fentanyl laws to lower the threshold to “zero tolerance.”

Senator Cannizzaro says the governor should be careful what he wishes for.

“We are not passing policy decisions in a special session,” Cannizzaro says. “Governor can call us into a special session. He does not control what bills are introduced. Bills that are only introduced are through the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the Nevada Assembly.”

Cannizzaro and Yeager stress it’s the legislature’s job to come up with and finalize the budget.

Tax breaks or funding for big ideas like a new A’s stadium and a movie studio cannot be approved if a veto precedes them.