Surrounded by 10 American flags borrowed from nearly every office in the capitol complex, Gov. Kenny Guinn Thursday told Nevadans the state has already lost millions in revenue because of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
But Guinn said Nevada has the resources to weather the economic damage and that he is already seeing some signs of recovery including rising occupancy in southern Nevada hotels.
But Guinn said the state will take no chances and ordered a hiring freeze on all but a few new state jobs, postponement of any capital expenditures and spending on new programs unless they are already in business.
Guinn said in a press conference afterward he has no plans at this point to delay or cancel pay raises for state workers and that he doesn't foresee any layoffs.
He said those people who have already been offered new jobs with the state will get them but added that the freeze includes his office, which has five new positions in the budget.
Guinn said he expects to make up some of the lost revenue from delays in those capital construction projects and other "one-shot" expenditures in the budget.
But throughout the speech and press conference afterward, Guinn made it clear he has very few details at this point.
"We're still prioritizing a list of what gets cut first," he said.
He also said it will be near the end of October before gaming and sales tax numbers are available to assess the state of the economy.
And he said he doesn't want to overreact and hurt programs that are badly needed to serve people.
Guinn said one of his biggest concerns is the number of people losing their jobs. The number of applications for unemployment benefits nearly doubled to 5,549 last week and a similar number are expected this week Ñ particularly from the tourist industry. To help process those applications, he has authorized hiring 40 more people in the Employment Security Division and ordered "many time consuming restrictions" waived to get them their checks as soon as possible.
He said there is more than $500 million in the unemployment trust fund to help pay those benefits.
Guinn said he has also asked banking and financial leaders, utilities to help those who have lost their jobs. He said he will also ask health care providers to make sure those people don't lose coverage for themselves and their families.
But Guinn said he expects the state to recover and that he isn't considering a special legislative session at this point to dip into Nevada's $140 million "rainy day" fund for financial emergencies. He said he doubts that will be necessary.
"I say with great pride this evening that our Nevada economy is resilient and strong enough to see us through these difficult times," he said.