Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Carson City Reality Check

Is it happening? Is it finally happening?

State Sen. Steven Horsford [D-Las Vegas] has broken the unofficial moratorium on frank talk about Nevada’s finances, acknowledging that additional “revenue” — read: taxes — along with spending cuts will be needed to balance the state budget in 2011.

“There has to be some combination of spending reductions and revenue to balance the budget,” he said. “It should be almost a dollar-for-dollar equation.”

This was bound to happen. Reality must now set in. All the cuts, all the gimmicks, and all the quick fixes can not put our state's fiscal house back in working order again.

And even now, I can still sense some suspension of disbelief. Horsford still thinks we can make $1.5 billion more in cuts. How? What will have to be eliminated?

He said some of the options for reducing spending include cutting the school year, eliminating programs such as health care for more than 20,000 children of the poor and dentures for seniors, and closing two state prisons. [...]

Broadening the tax base is still a priority for Horsford so state government is less dependent on gaming and sales taxes. But he also said he does not support a corporate income tax, which he had advocated in the past, calling it more volatile than he had previously thought.

Oh, I see. So let's eliminate health care for the neediest and slash the school year, too? Instead of recognize the obvious? We're the failed state of cheap!

As long as we refuse to invest what's needed in our schools, our parks, our roads, and all in all our basic infrastructure, we will never succeed as a state. And as long as our state offers a not-so-well-educated workforce and limited community services, those new businesses won't come and we will continue to be stuck, overdependent upon casinos that aren't investing as much in our state as the global gaming sector expands and new opportunities in Macau, Singapore, Eastern Europe, Mexico, and elsewhere outshine what we once had to offer.

Yep, that's the truth, whether we like it or not. We have what may end up being a $3 billion deficit in a $6.8 billion budget. What do we want to do? Wait in line even longer at the DMV as it goes from a 4 day work week to a 1 day work week? Watch our kids become even less prepared for the future as our schools close? See even more homeless people wandering Downtown because they lost their jobs and couldn't find any help afterward?

And do we want to sit by and watch the state collapse due to lack of investment, public or private? No new jobs? No new economic opportunities? No more Nevada?

It's about damned time Horsford says the obvious! But still, I hope he thinks some more about what our state really needs to get back to working order. During the boom years, we could hide our fiscal recklessness because the artificial real estate speculation "boom" was temporarily propping up our unrealistic economy and unrealistic demands (spend on whatever we want, but don't make us pay for it). Well, now our time is up and we either have to kill off our state once and for all, or FINALLY adjust to reality and figure out a way forward that will make Nevada our sustainable (in more ways than one!) home in the 21st century.

And let's face it, the only way we'll ever be able to move forward and find new opportunities is with new revenue to keep our state running. We can't afford any more cuts to vital infrastructure like schools, health care, and transportation.

1 comment:

  1. I'm curious, have you heard anything about the current condition of Nevada's prison system? Is it full to overflowing thanks to generous "TOUGH!!! On **CRIME**!!" politicing, like it is in California with Three Strikes and other such laws? Whether "cutting prisons" is a bad thing or not depends on the current status of those prisons and how many people could be rehabilitated instead of locked away, compared to the hardened criminals.

    I've never heard anybody say that Clark County Detention Facility needs a bigger building, but usually the shortage appears in state jails.