CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Thursday that all state employees would be furloughed one day a month starting in July and be subject to a freeze on all merit-based salary increases to stem an expected $1.3 billion budget shortfall amid the coronavirus.
In a letter to state employees, he said the furloughs and salary freezes would help limit the number of layoffs to less than 50. He said he is not proposing any changes to employee health insurance or retirement benefits at this time.
“The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to take a different direction with our state budget to respond to this new economic reality,” Sisolak said in a video address to state employees that accompanied the letter.
The state faces a $900 million budget shortfall for the current budget year, which ends June 30. It projects a $1.3 billion shortfall for the next fiscal year.
“It is with a heavy heart I must propose these actions. I know for many state employees, layoffs, furloughs, and budgets cuts are all too familiar and create tremendous hurdles in the work of serving our State,” he said.
The Democratic governor said he would continue to advocate for federal relief for states struggling with their budgets amid the pandemic. He said without significant help from the U.S. government, the state will have to make “severe reductions” in its budget, including K-12 education, public safety and health and human services.
The Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee will meet Friday to discuss the revenue shortfalls and take up Sisolak’s proposed budget cuts.