The Nevada State Democratic Party today said Gov. Brian Sandoval should immediately disclose state agency budget requests to the Legislature and public.
Some state lawmakers expressed concern at an Interim Finance Committee meeting in October that the Sandoval administration had not provided them with information about state agency requests over and above their base budget requests, known as "items for special consideration."
"Governor Sandoval's refusal to disclose his administration's budget requests is deeply disturbing and likely violates Nevada law," the statement says. "The governor is not entitled to pick and choose which laws he wants to follow. Governor Sandoval should immediately disclose his budget requests, as required by the law, so Nevadans know how he wants to spend their tax dollars."
The items of special consideration include data on expanding Medicaid to a new group of eligible Nevada residents as a result of the federal Affordable Care Act.
The story about the failure to provide the budget information was first reported by the Nevada News Bureau. Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, also expressed concerns about the failure by Sandoval's budget office to provide the information.
Kieckhefer was particularly concerned about the Medicaid data, saying that if Sandoval decides not to propose expanding Medicaid to the new eligible population, then the budget data collected to provide background on this item of special consideration might never be provided to lawmakers or the public. Kieckhefer said he would have a problem if that information was never made public.
Sandoval is not expected to announce his decision on expanding Medicaid until his State of the State address in January.
Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Rick Combs said today he again asked the Sandoval administration for the budget information last week.
In an email, he said in part: "I was told that they were hoping to have a response for me last week. I haven't heard anything from them about it since. We have not received access to the Items for Special Consideration, so we are unable to review it or provide it to the public.
"The Legal Division has looked into it and believes that the law requires the Governor's Office to provide to us and make available for the public the requests that agencies made for the upcoming biennium," Combs said. "We believe it was the intent that the Legislature and the public have access to what the agencies requested rather than only a portion of what the agencies requested."
The information has been provided to lawmakers by past governors.
In response to questions from the NNB, Sandoval said in October he had complied with the state laws requiring transmittal of the budget information to lawmakers.
"The agency requests have been presented to the Legislature in accordance with the law," he said at the time. "I don't see any problems."
Sandoval said it was unfair for anyone to suggest his administration failed to follow state law in the release of the budget data without providing any specifics about the alleged violation.
"There is no violation of law," he said. "We're perfectly consistent and in accordance with Nevada state law."