January 21, 2021
Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a two-year budget this week that restores significant cuts lawmakers made to the state’s budget over the summer as tax revenues plummeted and the state struggled to stay financially afloat amid the economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
His $8.7 billion general fund budget, however, still represents a slightly slimmed-down version of the one he put forward in 2019, with multiple departments, including the Department of Education and the Nevada System of Higher Education, seeing less proposed funding recommended to be appropriated to them from the general fund than the governor had proposed two years ago.
Other departments, however, are likely to see significant increases in the upcoming biennium, including, notably, the Department of Health and Human Services, whose budget has swelled to accommodate significant caseload growth in Medicaid. Nearly one in four Nevadans now receives coverage through the public health insurance program as many have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.
At the same time, the governor’s proposed budget includes the addition of 351 full-time positions over the biennium — before even including those within the state’s higher education system or legislative staff — or almost a 2 percent increase. That includes the addition of 282 people to the Department of Health and Human Services and 10 positions on the Cannabis Compliance Board.
The positions on the Cannabis Compliance Board will “ensure strict enforcement and regulation of the marijuana industry,” according to the governor’s proposed budget, and include one management analyst, one administrative law judge, one legal secretary, three marijuana program inspectors and an auditor.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ budget request emphasizes the need to develop a data analytics department to support “standardization, collaboration and capacity building,” and contains a specific request for