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Nevada lawmakers vote to cut their own pay 4.6% on first day of session


By Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau: The Nevada Legislature today voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that would cut their salaries by 4.6 percent.

The resolution recognized that state employees had already taken a 4.6 percent salary reduction in the form of furloughs. So first 41 Assembly members voted and then 21 Senators followed suit by promising to take a salary reduction equal to what other state employees already have taken. One member of the Assembly was absent.

The reduction is voluntary on the part of each lawmaker because the state constitution prohibits lawmaker salaries from being increased or decreased during their terms of office.

A legislator is paid $146.90 per day for the first 60 days of the regular legislative session. The 4.6 salary reduction in Assembly Concurrent Resolution 2 would cut their pay by about $400. For all 63 legislators, the total savings is $25,000.

The savings would be redirected to the state’ general fund. The several thousand dollars resulting from legislators’ salary reductions will hardly have an impact. Governor Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget provides for $5.8 billion in state spending.

Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, questioned whether the cut should be 5 percent, the level proposed by Sandoval for state workers and school district employees in the next budget starting July 1, 2011.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said the 4.6 percent cut reflects what state employees are taking currently. If the 5 percent reduction is approved for the next two-year budget, that amount can be adjusted, he said.

Horsford called it a “very small sign of solidarity.” Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said the cut is not a large amount of money but that it is important for lawmakers to stand with state employees who are taking the salary reduction.

The vote, however, is a political move. It’s similar to the way the governor and some other elected officials volunteered to forego a pay raise earlier this year.

Legislators are also paid a per diem for travel and living expenses during the legislative session. These are exempt from the 4.6 percent cut since that cut applies strictly to salaries and not overall compensation.

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