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Show Me the Money: Special Session Kicks Off...

June 26, 2008

Carson City, NV – Where will the money come from? That's the key question as a controversial special legislative session kicks off Friday.

One proposal to sell off Tobacco Master Settlement bonds to fill the temporary budget shortfall is coming in for sharp criticism. Lieutentant Governor Brian Krolicki says the shortfall requires "extraordinary measures," but opponents say his solution is economically short-sighted and will hurt tens of thousands of people in the Silver State.

However, former Assemblyman Larry Spitler believes that move would be a mistake because those bonds could be worth far more in the future.

"If they look too quickly at quick fixes, and many of them are looking at the tobacco settlement money as a quick fix, it will just simply put seniors and disabled individuals so far behind they'll never recover what minimal gains they've made."

State Treasurer Kate Marshall also questions the wisdom of using the settlement money to cover a temporary shortfall, saying a number of other options should be considered first. There is still disagreement over the total amount of this year's red ink.

More than 20,000 Nevada seniors and people with disabilities would be the big losers if lawmakers resort to using the tobacco settlement money, according to Diane Ross with AARP Nevada.

"Those programs that are funded by the tobacco money keep people in their homes, living independently in the community, instead of going to a nursing home. I mean that's a win-win for everybody."

Ross founded an independent living program that has reduced slips and falls by seniors at home by as much as 80 percent. A loss of funding for the program, she says, could mean big costs to the state in the long run.

Michael Clifford/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - NV