Gov. Steve Sisolak is proposing a two-year budget that reverses cuts to Medicaid and other key K-12 programs made last summer, after financial projections left the state at what officials are calling an “inconsistent, if not positive, ending point” for tax revenue.
The proposal, which was released Monday evening and comes a day before the governor’s biennial State of the State address, sets the state budget at $8.68 billion over the next two years, as revenues are about $500 million less than what was allocated during the last two-year budget cycle. The state’s tourism-dependent economy remains battered by the COVID-19 pandemic but economists are hopeful that a vaccine will usher in recovery.
State officials, in a press briefing ahead of the proposal’s release, said the budget reflects a more positive view of the state’s forecast than the worst case scenario projections made last year as the governor and lawmakers were forced to reengineer their budget because of economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, it represents a roughly 2 percent cut to the budget approved during the 2019 legislative session.
Notably, the proposed budget includes a restoration of some, though not all, of the cuts made during the 2020 special session, where lawmakers slashed nearly a billion dollars from the previously approved budgets as the state faced massive shortfalls in key revenue streams such as the gaming tax and sales tax.
“I am committed to remaining flexible and working closely with the Legislature in this unprecedented and evolving fiscal situation,” Sisolak said in a statement accompanying the release of his budget. “Throughout this dynamic process, the priorities will remain the same: recovering from this crisis and creating jobs, educating our kids, promoting justice and equality, and most importantly now, protecting the health of our people.”
Officials said their task of