Nevada Senate Finance Committee hears measure to replace child support enforcement system |

Nevada Senate Finance Committee hears measure to replace child support enforcement system

by Geoff Dornan

The Senate Finance Committee plowed through more than a dozen “one shot” bills on Saturday containing some $85 million in primarily federal money.

The list included a project that signals the final death of NOMADS, one of the most controversial and expensive computer projects in state history. NOMADS is the state’s child support enforcement system.

But the largest expenditure on the committee’s Saturday agenda had to be pulled off because analysts still are trying to nail down the total cost of reimbursing school districts for the per pupil shortfall caused by the fact many more students enrolled than the governor and 2015 Legislature budgeted for.

Senate Bill 522 originally contained $22.2 million more, the majority of it for Clark County School District where the biggest growth has occurred. The shortfall the state must make up had grown to $62.8 million by Saturday but analysts told lawmakers that number should actually come down some when they finish their calculations.

SB533 contains a total of $44.5 million for several major IT projects including $9.3 million in state money and $20.1 million in federal funding for phase two of the system that will replace the NOMADS child support system.

Welfare and Supportive Services Administrator Steve Fisher told lawmakers the existing system is nearly 30 years old and based on the antiquated COBOL computer program.

He advised the committee he will be back in two years for another appropriation to complete the job.

NOMADS drew the wrath of lawmakers and executive branch agencies as they watched the original $12.5 million contract grow through cost over-runs and amendments until, when completed, it had cost a total of more than $150 million in state and federal money. Adding insult to injury, managers said by the time it was completed, it was already out of date.

SB533 also contains funding for three other IT projects in the Welfare Division totaling more than $30 million. But Fisher told lawmakers 90 percent of those funds are federal, not state.

State Parks Administrator Eric Johnson asked the committee to support adding $4 million to that budget in large part to build facilities at the newest park, the Walker River State Recreation Area. The land for that park was donated to the state. Johnson said SB536 contains $750,000 in state cash and $1.2 million in non-state funding to construct campground areas, vault toilets and other amenities as well as $550,000 to build cabins at the new park.

That prompted Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, to question how much it would cost to upgrade to flush toilets and showers instead of vault toilets with no showers.

“We’re building a brand new state park,” Kieckhefer said. “I think maybe the expectation of toilets and showers is not unreasonable.”

Johnson said the bill would be about $90,000 and he would get the committee a letter explaining that would pay for eight toilets and four showers at the new park.

The bill includes $1.2 million to stabilize and restore crumbling buildings at Fort Churchill State Park. It also contains $168,000 for a series of projects at 10 other park campgrounds and $159,000 to build cabins at Wild Horse State Recreation Area.

The committee approved SB524 providing just more than $6 million to pay for fire suppression costs this current biennium and $182,000 to cover unanticipated costs of dealing with flooding this year.

SB534 contains $2.8 million for deferred maintenance at Nevada’s youth correctional facilities and SB535 $1.69 million to continue the state-federal program protecting the sage grouse in Nevada.

Nearly all the funding in those bills is already included in the governor’s recommended budget.

With the exception of SB524 and SB525 which provides $34,000 to cover a shortfall in NHP’s dignitary protection budget, lawmakers didn’t act on the bills.