Last-minute appropriations presented by Nevada Legislature |

Last-minute appropriations presented by Nevada Legislature

by Geoff Dornan

As the 2019 Legislature entered its final few hours, lawmakers amended a laundry list of appropriations into two seemingly innocuous bills — at least some of which could fairly be described as pork.

Ways and Means Chair Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, told her committee before the amendments were presented most of the projects included just had to wait to see how much money was left at the end of session.

Among them are $1 million apiece to relocate the National Atomic Testing Museum and to plan and design renovations, repairs and improvements to the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center. The original SB501 only dealt with relocating the Atomic Testing Museum.

After amendment, that measure and SB528 included two-dozen appropriations. SB528 originally contained only a $2 million appropriation to the Ruvo Brain Health Center.

The Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV got $500,000 to increase the diversity of gaming industry leaders.

The Springs Preserve Foundation got $1 million to relocate the Nature Gallery and build play and classroom areas; the Sustainability Center $2 million to expand exhibit space and build a large classroom.

The Grants Management office got $1 million to support a pilot program allowing state agencies, local and tribal governments and non-profits to seek grants from that agency.

Refurbishing Marlette Hall at Western Nevada College will get $105,000.

Several of the appropriations went to restore budget requests that were cut earlier in session including $5 million to help White Pine County pay to build a new courthouse and $709,150 to fund production of another season of the TV show Outdoor Nevada.

Sen. Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, has been trying to get some help for the courthouse project for a decade. The historic 100-year-old courthouse is overwhelmed with space and safety issues because of cases involving inmates at Ely State Prison.

Lawmakers voted to pump $20 million into starting the UNLV Engineering and Academic Research building project, simultaneously authorizing the school to raise and spend $20 million in matching funds.

They also voted $458,193 for expansion of the Great Basin College Welding Lab expansion.

The Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation will get $1 million to support getting children to their afterschool programs.

Also restored were three separate pots of money originally in the school safety budget.

They are $1.36 million a year for block grants to hire social workers and mental health professionals, $2.75 million a year to hire and equip school resource officers and police and $2.35 million a year to the Department of Education to develop a social, emotional, academic development strategic plan.

The largest appropriations center around increasing acute care reimbursement rates under Medicaid. Neonatal and pediatric intensive care rates that will get $9.6 million over the biennium. Acute care reimbursement increases for non-neonatal/pediatric cases will get a total of just under $36 million.

There were also a couple of appropriations that were necessary to provide for agency needs including $1 million to cover the cost of office rentals during remodeling the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas and $649,300 to cover the cost of computer programming at the Department of Motor Vehicles required because of legislation passed by the 2019 session.