By Michelle L. Price
LAS VEGAS — Gov. Steve Sisolak’s budget proposal calls for about $26 billion in spending over the next two years, including a 3-percent pay raise for state workers and K-12 teachers, more than $100 million for growing enrollment in the Medicaid health insurance program and $3 million for family planning services.
Sisolak’s budget was released Thursday after the Democrat unveiled highlights in his Wednesday night State of the State speech.
The plan does not call for cuts in any department’s spending or any new taxes or tax increases, something Republicans applauded.
The Democrat-controlled Legislature will set Nevada’s budget in its biennial session kicking off next month before sending it to Sisolak.
A look at highlights of Sisolak’s budget plan:
He is proposing a 3-percent raise for all state workers, including K-12 teachers. Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said legislators will have to scrutinize the proposal because it’s going to cost $120 million a year.
“We need to look at the long-term burn, how that’s going to go,” Kieckhefer said. “But broadly, I support it. I’ve always supported teacher pay raises and pay raises for state employees. Those are people I represent.”
Sisolak also is proposing $45 million for pre-kindergarten programs, $27 million to help 2,000 additional students access career and technical education programs, and $9 million to reimburse teachers who buy classroom supplies.
He’s also requesting $36.5 million this year to cover growing enrollment in public schools and recommending that $53 million generated from the retail sales of legal marijuana over the next two years be put toward school safety.
The budget calls for $44 million over the next two years to pay for growing student enrollment at the state’s universities and colleges. Sisolak is proposing that $477 million be spent on a new health and sciences building at the College of Southern Nevada and $62 million for a new education building at Nevada State College. He’s also proposing the state boost funding at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas medical school by $14.3 million by the end of the budget cycle.
Nevada, one of three dozen states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, is expected to have 687,000 people on the health care program by the 2021. Sisolak is proposing to set aside more than $100 million to pay for that. Nevada and the U.S. government jointly pay for Medicaid and the state’s children’s health program. But to make up for the federal government’s decreasing share of the costs, Sisolak’s budget proposes sending an additional $132 million for those programs. Nevada is moving away from the federally run online health insurance exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act to a state-run website. Sisolak is recommending nearly $14 million for the move over the next two years.
Sisolak said he wants to make sure every person is counted in the 2020 U.S. Census. To help with that effort, he’s proposing spending $5 million on outreach and education.
He also is proposing about $95,000 to implement an automatic voter registration law that voters passed in November. The so-called “motor voter” law automatically registers eligible people to vote when they apply for a driver’s license or state ID card.
Another initiative approved by voters, the Marsy’s Law embedding crime victims’ rights in the state constitution, gets $15 million for implementation over two years. Among the law’s provisions is a push to make it easier for crime victims to be notified when a suspect in their case is released on bail. It also prioritizes victim restitution over other fines and forfeitures.
Sisolak has also proposed an Office of New Americans to help immigrants navigate government services. He’s budgeting nearly $400,000 for the office through the 2021 budget year.