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KNPR's Ky Plaskon reports on the first weekly 'e-brief', an attempt to increase the impact of the governor's messages on the public in anticipated tough economic times.
During this year's battle over the state's proposed budget, lawmakers debated and were deadlocked months beyond the state's deadlines. It ended in court action and the state's difficulties led to a national debate over the legislative 2-3rds majority vote needed to raise taxes. Greg Borterlin, Press Information Officer for Governor Kenny Guinn says better communication could have made the process smoother.
"It became crystal clear that we needed to get our message out in an unfiltered format. It's the media's perogative to cover what they are going to cover and there were times during this last session when there were some misunderstandings and dare I say misinformation about the budget and when those instances rise again the governor can communicate directly to key business people to set the record straight."
The move to start the e-brief comes just as debate is heating up again over the state's budget - specifically that the state could be 200 million dollars short in 2005 as a result of decreased income from the federal government. Borterlin says the e-brief is in anticipation of tough times to come.
"We are clearly not out of the woods yet."
Not only that, in an interview last week with KNPR, Governor Guinn said that despite record tax increases the state's economy is still not healthy enough to support expenditures under the current tax structure. He has also said that he will not raise taxes and he hopes to use the e-brief to explain to the public how to meet the states needs without raising taxes.
"It is incumbent on the governor and his staff to communicate how we are going to deal with that and knock on wood we hope the economy makes a robust turn, but reality is probably is something different from that."
Kieth Schwer - director of UNLV's center for business and economic research, says an e-brief is a good start to more civic involvement from Nevadans, almost all of whom have been in the state less than 10 years
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"Building consensus is not easy, what the record of the last few years has told us is that consensus going forward creates great problems for us so any efforts to start now to educate people to put facts on the table and to build consensus is very important and welcome I would think."
And its going to take some local and national brainstorming to solve the problem he says.
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"States and local governments nationally have evolved into this problem, the problem of fiscal shortfalls and the problem of revenue streams, and that the volatility in revenue is significantly greater than what local governments want in terms of spending streams that they feel they need to respond to."
Nevada's budget won't be the only weekly topic - transportation and Senior RX are other named topics. With this e-brief from the Governor, Nevada will be joining Washington, Arkansaw and Hawaii - that also put out regular messages to the public using e-mail.
For KNPR, I'm Ky Plaskon
To sign up for the Governor's weekly e-brif, go to www.nv.us