Optimistic forecasts give Nevada lawmakers more budget money

Optimistic forecasts give Nevada lawmakers more budget money

The revenue will allow lawmakers to decide whether to restore cuts made to the state budget and — along with federal relief money — expand spending to historic levels. The budget recommendations will be used by lawmakers in crafting the state’s budget in the waning weeks of the legislative session. Under the Nevada Constitution, the state’s budget has to be balanced, so lawmakers have until the end of the month when the session concludes to finish drafting the budget.  Dan White, director of public sector research for Moody’s Analytics, told the panel that the differences between the December and May forecasts were “night and day.”

CARSON CITY — Widespread vaccine distribution and federal coronavirus relief money have set Nevada on a path toward a quicker-than-expected economic recovery, analysts said Tuesday. Tuesday, May 4, 2021 | 7:30 p.m.

The five members of the state Economic Forum approved projections that suggest the return of tourists to the casinos and resorts that power Nevada’s economy would provide roughly $9.1 billion in general fund revenue over the next two years, which is $586 million more than originally expected. Staff and wire reports

But in December, the Economic Forum projected Nevada would collect $8.5 billion in general fund revenue over the next two budget years. The figure was roughly $500 million less than the two-year projection issued in 2019 but greater than last June’s $7.7 billion projection. State analysts told the panel that the projections were higher because of higher-than-expected vaccination rates and a Democrat-controlled Congress that was willing to pass large-scale economic relief. Analysts predicted that it would take at least two years for general fund revenue to rebound, and late last year, Sisolak asked agencies to prepare 12% across-the-board cuts for the upcoming two-year budget cycle.

Last April, business closures and few tourists traveling to Las Vegas during the pandemic plunged Nevada into a recession and caused the unemployment rate to spike to about 30%, a record high. The downturn forced Gov. Steve Sisolak and lawmakers to slash Medicaid reimbursement rates and funding for underperforming schools to cut roughly $682 million in spending. “It’s actually been nice, for the first time in 12 years of presenting the forecast, I get to give an upcast forecast to people these days,” White said. “I’m usually the doom-and-gloom guy.”

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