Question 2 seeks voters’ input on state budget process |

Question 2 seeks voters’ input on state budget process

Douglas voters are being asked to tell state legislators that they want them to work with local lawmakers before deciding to raid county budgets.

Advisory Question 2 was sought by the Nevada Association of Counties after the state Legislature helped itself to $283 million in local revenue.

Association Director Jeff Fontaine said that in many cases those funds were taken without consulting the counties.

In at least one case, officials learned of the Legislature’s plans for $12 million in mineral lease revenue on the day.

“A lot of this money has been taken without notice,” Fontaine said. “We literally walked in the door of the special session when we found out what they were planning. Taking the mineral leases revenue hit the rural counties pretty hard.”

Fontaine said the advisory question was designed to tell the Legislature that residents want the counties and state to work together.

“We got the message out that we need to be part of the decision making,” he said. “We’re not drawing a line in the sand. We want local government to work with the Legislature.”

The ballot question was swept up by the counties once it was proposed.

“Every county approved it,” Fontaine said. “We also received support from the League of Cities.”

The ballot question also serves to tell voters who might not otherwise be aware about what may potentially happen in the Legislature.

“There’s no appetite to raise taxes,” he said. “The state is going to have to cut services, and those services may have to be picked up by the counties.”

Nevada’s government will have to deal with one of the proportionally largest deficits in the country when the Legislature meets in 2011.

Fontaine said the counties recognize that the state will be looking for ways to raise money and cut costs, and that the counties want to participate.

A vote in favor of the question won’t make that happen, but Fontaine said it will at least alert lawmakers that voters want them to work with local governments.