Wednesday, December 09, 2009

State governmental math

Because Nevada was running a deficit on, oh, day 2 of our fiscal year, the governor has come up with a new plan to deal with a potential $53 million shortfall: layoffs of state employees (see here).

Now, I believe that the state should close the shortfall. (I'm a big fan of income being larger than spending.) But I don't understand why the governor persists in thinking that cuts are the only way to make the income/spending equation balance. We have one of the narrowest tax bases in the country--basically building our income on the backs of the tourism industry. In a recession, that income base will inevitably decline with discretionary spending.

I'm not seeing the governor or the legislature come up with ways to make our tax system sustainable, or even more fair.

And don't get me started about how much money Nevada has lost by not accepting federal Yucca Mountain money while it studies (or should have studied) whether the license for Yucca should be (or should have been) granted. We threw away jobs and money because the state didn't even want to consider putting storage of nuclear waste NEXT TO THE NEVADA TEST SITE, which is not exactly pristine land now. Because the state had a knee-jerk reaction (and I understand: the government told the citizens of this state that above-ground nuclear testing was safe, all those years ago) to the plan, we've lost serious revenue here. Ask all those folks in Summerlin and Pahrump how they feel about Yucca being stalled.

Look, Nevada: I like living here (although I bemoan the lack of infrastructure). I want this state to thrive. We cannot thrive on the backs of tourists. We need someone with the political cojones to say that it's time to rethink how Nevada gets income, and not someone who recites the mantra of cutting without thinking about all of the consequences.

Either Nevada becomes a place that has well-educated citizens with skill sets for employers, or it devolves into a state rather like the one portrayed in the movie Idiocracy. California's also facing severe budget issues, and its "tax everything" approach isn't working, either. Let's figure out a sensible middle ground and stop posturing for the news media.


Anonymous said...

Not to mention laying off state employees is only going to add to the foreclosure disaster thereby lowering state revenue even more.

Anonymous said...

Spoken like someone who hasn't been to the Nevada Test Site. As if tourism wasn't risky enough gambling away Nevada's future and the very water that sustains the state doesn't make much sense. None of which even begins to deal with the issues for the whole country surrounding transportation. The ironic part is those who have lived in the state for more than a half-decade know that the state did take money for the studies suggested. And that the studies were done.

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Nancy Rapoport said...

Thanks, all of you, for your comments. Anonymous #1, I agree with you completely. Anonymous #2, your sources of information disagree with mine. The State of Nevada, according to my sources, has lost literally millions of dollars by not working with the federal government on the Yucca Licensing Application. Moreover, Nye County is being extremely careful about its science--to the point where everyone's paying attention to the County's science as the best source of info--to make sure that Nevadans are not endangered by the site.