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Umbrella Rally to Urge More Use of Rainy Day Fund

December 17, 2007

Las Vegas, NV – They're hoping for rain. Supporters of state health and education programs will be holding up umbrellas this morning to urge Gov. Jim Gibbons to dip a little deeper into the state's "Rainy Day Fund." The Governor indicated Friday that he was willing to use some of the contingency fund to reduce his planned 8 percent budget cuts by almost half.

But Jan Gilbert with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN) says the "Rainy Day Fund" is there for big problems, so she feels the governor should be using it to support vital services.

"He's starting to listen to the outcry from the public, but we feel it's not enough. A 4.5 percent cut is hard, and now it's affecting education, and most of the budget."

Gibbons defends his across-the-board cuts, saying they hit all agencies just as hard, but Gilbert argues it has deeper impact in areas like health and education, which already are underfunded.

Paul Gowins is active in programs to help people with disabilities. He thinks Gov. Gibbons needs to do more because these programs were just starting to make a comeback in terms of funding.

"We have a rainy day fund, and there's a lot of alternatives, but we're not hearing talk about nothing but just, 'Whack the poor people,' especially people with disabilities. You know, these are things we've been working on for a long time, and all of a sudden I guess it's not important again."

PLAN's Bob Fulkerson warns Gibbons' cuts could cost the state in the long run.

"If we start cutting human services and funds for the mentally ill, we stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in matching funds from the federal government."

Las Vegas nurse Pat Moore adds that health problems don't just go away, and she predicts whatever cuts Gibbons does make will end up being paid for at the local level.

"The state has a shortfall, so the state's going to pass it onto the county. The county social service system is over-taxed, and the county doesn't have enough budget. So it all just rolls downhill, and the person at the bottom of the hill is the consumer."

The Legislative Committee on Healthcare debates the cuts on Tuesday in Carson City. Today's rally begins at 10:00 AM outside the Children's Trauma Center, at Goldring Avenue and Rose Street, in Las Vegas.

Michael Clifford/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - NV