As chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee Las Vegas Republican Assemblyman Paul Anderson plays a key role in overseeing Nevada’s state budget.
But before Anderson’s committee holds any budget hearings, they are going to have to close a massive gap between what the state has to spend and what various agencies are requesting for the next two years.
The Economic Forum has predicted the state has $6.3 billion to spend over the next two years, while state agencies have requested $7.7 billion.
Anderson told KNPR’s State of Nevada that those numbers are facts. He does say that requests from state agencies are just that - requests.
“State law requires the governor to balance the budget based on the $6.3 billion,” Anderson said.
The biggest chunks of the budget go to Health and Humans Services and education. He said those two departments eat up 80 percent of the state’s budget.
Making the budget and tax issues stickier is recent news that the Assembly’s second-most powerful Republican has serious tax issues – and she is Michele Fiore the head of the Taxation Committee.
“There are a lot of folks who are concerned that they won’t get a fair hearing in that committee,” Anderson said.
Anderson declined to talk directly about any tax issues she has had, but he did say that he’s not sure how many “second and third chances the public is willing to give someone.”
Fiore and others in the assembly have signed a ‘no-new-taxes’ pledge. Anderson has not done so. He said he feels that would be like tying one arm behind his back.
He told KNPR that some of the people who signed the pledge haven’t had the chance to see some of the state’s budget numbers and when they do they’ll have to determine where they stand.
“The idea is not to go in with decision made before you have the information at hand. And that’s the difficult part,” Anderson said.
He does feel that the recent upheaval of leadership within his own party is something they’ll have to get past so they can get to the governing of the state.
He said Nevada Republicans will need to take the time to move from a defensive mode to a solution-oriented party and governing body.
Anderson said one of the biggest priorities must be education, but he believes in investing money in certain programs in education.
“There is large support for targeted funding in things that we can get results in,” Anderson said.
He said projects like English language learners and Read by 3 can be help but the state needs to see a return on the money spent.
Paul Anderson, Assemblyman, R-Las Vegas, and chair of Ways & Means Committee.