Senate, Assembly split over cuts to China Spring and Aurora Pines youth camps

The entrance to China Spring Youth Camp located south of Gardnerville in the Pinenut Mountains.

The entrance to China Spring Youth Camp located south of Gardnerville in the Pinenut Mountains.

Senate and Assembly members of the money committees split Tuesday over the governor’s proposed deep cuts to state support for the China Spring and Aurora Pines youth camps in Douglas County.

The governor recommended cutting state support for the camps by $1.2 million, a 71 percent reduction in General Fund. That would eliminate 16-18 positions and cut capacity from 56 to just 20 youths at the camps that serve every county in the state except Clark.

Assembly Ways and Means Chair Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, said for several sessions lawmakers have asked the counties to come up with a better funding plan that is more self-sufficient.

“The response we got after the first hearing, I believe, was inadequate,” she said. “The solution was just fund us.”

Carlton said lawmakers should go with the recommended cut and see if more money can be found or the counties can come up with a better funding mechanism before the end of session.

But Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus, R-Wellington, said cutting that much out of the budget would have a serious impact.

“I’m concerned about the immediate results,” she said. “There’s no cushion here.”

“I’m worried that if we do close (the governor’s recommendation), and don’t find a resolution, we’ll be in a position where a lot of kids are going to be sent to Summit View or another institution,” said Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno.

Summit View is in Southern Nevada.

He was joined by Sen. Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas.

The motion passed 5-3 among Assembly members of the subcommittee but Hammond’s vote left the Senate deadlocked at 2-2. After that, Kieckhefer moved to reject the governor’s recommendation, Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks and Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, then changed their votes to support the motion.

That means the Senate and Assembly members of Ways and Means and Senate Finance will have to resolve the difference later.

The Human Resources Subcommittee also voted reluctantly to approve the governor’s recommended reductions to the Washoe and Clark County Child Welfare fiscal incentive program budgets. That cuts $1.7 million out of the Washoe budget and $5.1 million out of the Clark child welfare budget.

“I’m fully aware this may impact the ability to provide child welfare services,” said Ratti, the subcommittee chair. “I’d prefer we didn’t have to do these cuts but I’m fully aware we don’t have the money.

Titus added that hopefully lawmakers have the opportunity before the end of this Legislature to restore some of that funding.

“There is not a good way to put a smiley face on what we’re doing,” said Assembly Majority Leader Teresa Benitez Thompson, D-Reno. “Hopefully we can figure out something different.”

The decisions made by the subcommittee must be ratified by the full committees and any differences between the two panels resolved.



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