31st Special Session: The Budget

Dear Constituents, Colleagues and Supporters,

Last night, the Governor released his proclamation for the 31st Special Session to address the estimated $1.2 billion dollar revenue shortfall due to the COVID business closures for Fiscal Year 2021. The next few days will bring an unprecedented level of difficult budget choices. To see a preview of the proposed cuts you can view the July 6th COVID-19 Fiscal Report.

Although the legislative building is closed to the public due to concerns over the spread of COVID, all floor sessions are made fully available online on the Nevada Legislative YouTube Channel.

To submit written testimony and other documents for the record, they must be submitted electronically in PDF format to the Chief Clerk of the Assembly at AsmCOW@asm.state.nv.us within 24 hours of adjournment of the meeting unless waived by the Chairman.

If you wish to present testimony by telephone , please call  (669) 900-6833 between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. or at the conclusion of presentations at about 5 p.m. on July 8, 2020, and enter Meeting ID 97877396380. In addition, send an email to AsmCOW@asm.state.nv.us and include your name; the name of the organization you represent, if applicable; email address; telephone number; and position on the bill (for, against, or neutral), if applicable.

There is also an opportunity to share your opinions on bills once they have been introduced.

In case you missed it, I wrote about some of the heartbreaking decisions we will be facing along with more steps I believe the administration could have taken to minimize the reductions and spread them out over time in my newsletter back in June. Here is an excerpt, particularly regarding education funding.

Impacts on our Education Budget

COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges not only in the delivery of quality education but to our fiscal health as a state.  On Friday June 12th, the Interim Finance Committee (IFC) met to discuss the $812M revenue shortfall and vote on cuts in FY’20 which ends June 30 th . Cuts to Education totaled $265M for this fiscal year alone.

As many of you know the entire reason I began advocating and eventually serving in the NV Legislature was to fight cuts to education in the last recession . I will never forget sitting in a meeting with 20 other leaders to address the $123M in cuts over a five year period with then Governor Sandoval back in 2013. To see $265M in cuts in just 3 short months is heartbreaking however, the rainy day fund is being used to cover the losses and the school year is over so the impact for the most part has been mitigated… for now.  It is what we are facing in FY’21 that has caused me many sleepless nights as we consider an additional anticipated shortfall of between $1-1.5B out of a $4.5B budget.

From what I have seen so far, I am deeply concerned we have not taken more action sooner. As difficult as inevitable cuts and implementing budget saving solutions like furloughs are, sharing the sacrifice of this fiscal crisis and spreading out the impact over time could have eased some of the pain of the steep cliff we are facing heading into this next fiscal cycle. Instead, our state swept the entire rainy day fund before making any cuts, delayed furloughs to next fiscal year and did not cut enough to keep a 5% general fund reserve as we close out this fiscal year. This will inevitably hurt our bond rating making it more expensive to borrow money when we will most definitely need it in the not so distant future.

I will do everything within my power to advocate for keeping as much in education as possible but cuts are unavoidable given the impact this pandemic has had on our economy and subsequent revenues.  If you will allow me to be vulnerable for a moment, what I would appreciate most from all of you and our education allies is your thoughtful recommendations, research, support and empathy as we face these extremely difficult decisions ahead.   I welcome you into the process of finding solutions wherever possible.

COVID is continuing to spread across our community and cases have been steadily climbing over the past few weeks. If we want to keep our economy open and restore these losses to our revenue it is more important than ever to continue practicing social distancing, washing your hands, using face coverings in public. If you have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has COVID, fill out the Washoe County Health Department Online Assessment form to get tested.

Thank you to all of you for your past and current support. Please do not hesitate to reach out with your thoughts, questions and ideas. We are truly in this together and that is the only way for us to get through this successfully.

In Service,
Jill TollesAssembly District 25

Additional Resource Links:

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