When I entered the legislative building on Wednesday, July 8th I knew the decisions we were facing would be extremely difficult but necessary to close the $1.2B shortfall in revenues due to COVID business closures. I did not, however, anticipate only receiving massive budget and surprise tax bills just hours before or in some cases right as hearings were starting therefore limiting the ability to fully vet or offer amendments before rushed votes. I also never would have imagined that the super majority party would recommend even deeper cuts to education than what was proposed at the beginning of the session.
Thankfully, after I pointed out on the record that the amendment to AB3 reduced more money to K-12 budgets than the Governor’s recommendations and after an initial party line vote, another middle of the night amendment was proposed and passed with bipartisan support to restore $50 Million, using CARES Act funds, to the Nevada Department of Education to provide block grants to schools so the needs of our most vulnerable students can be met.
These past 12 days were unnecessarily partisan, contentious, and political, ultimately causing delays in the process and poor outcomes for students, medical providers and those who are served by our most critical programs in the state. In spite of it, I continued to reach out to leadership across the aisle and along with the help of other effective colleagues in the building, we were able to get to a place of closure.
I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize Senators Ben Kieckhefer, Heidi Gansert, and my Assemblyman Republican Leadership partners Dr. Robin Titus and Tom Roberts who fought alongside me for our priorities of finding savings and other means of already available funding to reduce the cuts to education and healthcare. Working collaboratively we took on the challenges of navigating the tumultuous waters of this session despite the competing headwinds and constant shifts in the conditions we faced.
Together with our colleagues across both houses we were able to reduce many of the Governor’s recommended budget cuts using savings and funds from other accounts without having to raise any revenues in the interim. Some of the programs we saved from deep cuts or elimination altogether were:
Although I am grateful we finally came to a resolution and voted to close the budget, I leave the session still disappointed by the deeper cuts to higher education, the lack of firm commitment to restore Medicaid reimbursement rates as federal funds are extended and the imbalance of sacrifice for state employees compared to those carried by our private sector, education and healthcare systems.
As we face the strong probabilities of another wave of COVID and additional special sessions on social justice reforms and our crippled unemployment system, I know the difficult tasks of interim lawmaking did not end last night. I also know Nevada’s continuing efforts to fight against this virus and aid in the recovery of our economy are going to need a more coordinated, strategic, and comprehensive approach.
I will continue to work hard, study the issues as they come, reach out for solutions and serve with integrity, critical thinking and civility for the good of Assembly District 25 and the state. I will also hold onto the hope that despite the challenges we just observed this special session, my colleagues across the legislative body will dust off, rise up, reach out, open the dialogue again and get to the work of being effective lawmakers for the good of all the Nevadans we serve across this great state.
I deeply appreciate the input and support I have received in these immensely challenging times. I am grateful for the honor of serving as your Assemblywoman and I do believe we will prevail as a state through this even if we are not yet out of the storm.
Jill TollesAssembly District 25
For more information on Washoe County School District , click here .
For more information on the NV Department of Education , go here .
For the latest updates from the Nevada System of Higher Education , visit here .
The Legislative Counsel Bureau has put together a great resources page here .
To see the latest information, links and resources compiled by the Reno Tahoe Chamber of Commerce visit here .
For up to date information at the Nevada state level on COVID-19, please go to https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/ .
For Washoe County Regional Information go to: https://covid19washoe.com/
To Learn more about How to Get Tested go to: https://covid19washoe.com/testing/
To submit information to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development on the impact to your business, go to: https://www.diversifynevada.com/small-business-administration-sba-disaster-assistance-in-response-to-the-coronavirus/
For more information on Unemployment Insurance and the Federal CARES Act , go to: https://detr.nv.gov/Page/COVID-19_(Coronavirus)_Information_for_Claimants_and_Employers
To file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) , go to: https://www.employnv.gov/vosnet/Default.aspx