Breaking with precedent during the pandemic, Gov. Steve Sisolak will deliver his State of the State address on Jan. 19 as a virtual event, but will release his highly anticipated budget proposal a day earlier to comply with state statute.

The Democratic governor is set to release his recommended two-year budget on Monday, Jan. 18 — which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day — but hold off on the speech where he’ll expand on that plan until the day after the federal holiday.

State law  equires the governor to submit a copy of his proposed budget to the Legislature no later than 14 calendar days before the start of the 120-day legislative session, which will begin on Feb. 1.

“This State of the State will undoubtedly look different than any prior State of the State in Nevada history,” Sisolak said in a statement. “My recommended budget will represent where we are as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, and my State of the State will highlight where we are going.”

Sisolak’s office said the governor would pre-tape the speech and not hold an in-person event to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The speech usually draws a crowd to Carson City and is a highly celebratory and ceremonial event marking the start of a new legislative cycle.

Traditionally, governors use the budget deadline as material for their State of the State addresses, where many of their priorities for the upcoming legislative session are publicly revealed for the first time. 

Sisolak’s two-year budget is expected to reflect Nevada’s dire economic straits as well as hopes that a COVID-19 vaccine will help restore tourism and the related revenue streams toward the end of the biennium.

The Economic Forum predicted in December that the state will have $8.5 billion in general fund revenue for its two-year budget, which is down about $400 million from what the Legislature had approved at the end of the 2019 session.

Sisolak asked state agencies to pare their budget requests for the upcoming biennium by 12 percent relative to levels approved for the 2019 fiscal year.

The governor’s office said the address will be aired online and additional details on how to watch will be released prior to Jan. 19.