Sunday, February 22, 2009

Let's play "connect the dots"

I read these three pieces in today's local paper: Gibbons'[s] budget would kill higher education (here), Drop, drop, drop . . . . (here), and Kill Yucca, then get going on the rest of our problems (here). What links them?

Well, Nevada's economy is pretty awful right now, and as things stand, higher education cuts are poised to bear the brunt of Nevada's attempt to balance the budget (the first piece). Virtually everyone in Nevada is suffering from plummeting housing prices (the second piece). And our local newspapers are still clamoring to get rid of Yucca Mountain (the third piece).

I'm still waiting to read reporting of the millions (possibly billions) of dollars that working with the federal government on envisioning Yucca as a safe place to store waste would have meant (and could still mean) for Nevada. We're talking regular infusions of cash here, plus studies by independent scientists (NOT the same folks who brought above-ground nuclear testing to Nevada in the last century, and who said that such testing was "safe") to make sure that nothing would go in the ground that posed a real risk for Nevadans. We're talking about jobs in Clark County (where Las Vegas is located) and Pahrump (Nye County, near the Yucca Mountain site). We're talking about people who, instead of facing layoffs and possible foreclosures, could pay their bills and keep their houses.

I may be biased, but the idea that Nevada should reject funding from the Federal government during the investigatory phase (the "will Yucca work and be safe?" phase) because it prefers to stick its head in the sand seems a bit short-sighted to me.

My guess is that the newspapers haven't polled Nevadans recently with the following question: would you rather that your state accept some federal funding while Yucca is being debated, or would you prefer to reject federal funding while your economy goes down the tubes?


Jordan Ross, Republican Precinct District Manager, 20th Assembly District said...

The current budget crisis is a complex one that will not be solved with either a raise taxes across the board solution or conversely, a cut spending across the board approach. Comprehensive budget reform has begun with the establishment of the SAGE Commission, but this process will take several years and in the meantime there will be those in my party who are not happy with any increase in taxation and those in the opposing party who be displeased with any cuts in spending. Legislation is like making sausage and budget legislation more so than any other. The resulting product will satisfy few but grinding everything to a halt will not provide a long term solution. We need to cobble together a budget for the next two years but with the understanding that a comprehensive change in the very nature of how the public sector does business has to occur.

Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks so much for writing in, and I agree with you--we're stuck between two awful choices, and there's no way that we're going to make everyone happy. I don't envy the difficult decisions that the Legislature is going to have to make. This is a time to avoid playing politics (either party!) and to focusing on what's right for our state in the long run.