Nevada Lawmakers Aim to Keep State Museums Running

nevadamuseum1On Thursday members of a Senate-Assembly budget panel rejected Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons’ proposed cultural program cuts, saying they want to find funding to keep Nevada’s museums operating at close to current levels as possible. 

Under the governor’s submitted proposal, spending on cultural programs would have been cut nearly 36 percent, to $19.1 million over two years, and staffing would be cut by up to 40 percent. 

The just-renovated East Ely Railroad Depot Museum and Comstock History Center in Virginia City would have been closed, the staff of the Nevada Historical Society would be cut, and other museums would be open only four days per week. 

“Our recommendation [to the governor] was to basically leave them open with a little bit of cut, but keep them operating as much as possible,” said Nevada Assemblyman Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, the budget subcommittee co-chairman. 

To potentially provide some additional Nevada museum funding, the subcommittee rejected the $7.7 million state computer program proposed by Governor Gibbons. 

If the museums remain open, Denis said, revenue from admission costs could also help the crisis. 

Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, also suggested museums review their policies on use of volunteers to provide adequate staffing at facilities. 

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said the new Nevada State Museum at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve would have to wait until the 2011 legislative session.   That would mean the earliest the museum could open, according to Denis, would be 2013. 

If budget cuts are approved as is, library hours would be reduced from eight to four per day, staff would be reduced by half, and state library and museum archives could only be accessed by appointment.

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