Steve Sebelius, Columnist, Las Vegas Review Journal
BY LEE HERNANDEZ -- The state Economic Forum, a non-partisan group of finance experts that makes projections for state revenue, met and made its final revenue estimates for the next biennium.
The forum projected lawmakers will have an additional $36 million in revenue to factor into the state budget. Total general fund revenue projections for the 2013-2015 biennium total $5.8 billion.
That small boost in revenue won’t do much though. “What they did yesterday is just chump change, they’ll probably give some of that away just in one shot funding to worthy causes at the end of the session, so it doesn’t really help,” says Steve Sebelius, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist, in an interview on KNPR’s “State of Nevada.”
They went through every revenue source, they (The Economic Forum) looked in every couch corner, turned out every pants pocket, from insurance taxes, gaming taxes, and left no stone unturned looking for projected revenue Sebelius adds.
Budget and tax plans
Gov. Sandoval released a $6.5 billion budget earlier this year and some senate Republicans have their own budget plan that includes new taxes on mining.
But Democrats, who hold a majority in both the Senate and Assembly, have yet to release a tax plan despite calling for $300 million more in spending for education than Gov. Sandoval has proposed.
Getting an additional $300 million at this point will be tricky.
“They’ll tinker with some exceptions to the Live Entertainment Tax, they may find a little bit of money here or there but there won’t be any major sweeping reforms. Not on day 88 of a 120 day session,” Sebelius says. “I think we’re going to have to see if the teachers union business tax helps but that’s the next biennium, right here right now, $300 million dollars, that’s probably too steep a hill to climb.”
One forum member told the Review-Journal that current projections are uncertain because factors like the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and federal sequestration could complicate revenue collection.
While there have been some incremental improvements in the Nevada economy, the state still has a long way to go and seeing into the future is tough.
“When you’re still coming out of a recession, and Nevada is still coming out of a recession, it’s difficult to predict what this economy is going to do over the next two years and there’s not a lot of hope that suddenly it’s just going to boom, it’s going to skyrocket upwards. It most likely will continue on at the pace that it’s continuing on,” Sebelius says.