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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Everything is on the table; so look at everything



Nevada state agencies want an $8.3 billion budget, but this would require a 59 percent tax increase - larger than the last two tax hikes combined. Such a large tax increase would make the recession in Nevada virtually permanent.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford has made it clear he wants at least $1.5 billion in tax increases - sill the largest tax hike in state history. Such a tax increase will only serve to sustain our bloated spending at 2007-09 biennium levels (and about 2009-11 as well).

So what can we do? If history is any guide, be warned, tax increases are coming and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was $1 billion to $1.5 billion. But can Republicans, lead by Brian Sandoval, stick together long enough to get major concessions out of Democrats?

Democrats claim that everything is on the table, but what they really mean is that they want a tax increase, fund sweeps and accounting gimmicks to sustain our bloated government spending.

Republicans should take them to task over this claim – like calling for privatization of state services, spending limits, pension reform and more. In other words, seriously look at everything on the table before going to tax hikes.

Republicans should hold out and stick with the no tax mantra until Democrats can agree to the following:

  1. Roll back the state’s budget to a previous year – 2007 at latest but 2003 would be “best” (and this still keeps the Kenny Guinn tax hikes). Nevada actually increased spending at the beginning of the recession and barely made a dent in the budget afterward. Basic support per pupil even went up.
  2. Spending limits – limit total state government spending growth to population plus inflation. This will prevent or lessen the damage from future spending bubbles that lead to this mess in the first place.
  3. Pension reform – Create defined contribution plan for government workers rather than our unsustainable defined pension plan. This will reduce an already massive unfunded liability; estimated at $9 billion but is likely much more.
  4. Eliminate health insurance subsidies for retired government workers – this is already a $4 billion unfunded liability.
  5. Competitive sourcing – require state agencies to bid against the private sector to provide state services including landscaping, auto repair, HVAC repair, and even social services, health and welfare.
  6. Priority based budgeting – Nevada’s baseline budgeting results in our staee agencies treating tax dollars like an entitlement. Priority based budgeting forces government to look at available revenue first, and assign it based on priorities and agencies ability to meet goals set by legislature.
  7. Transparency – put the entire check book online in a searchable database. Let the people see if you’ve really cut to the bone or not.
  8. Government worker union reform – A) negotiations are subject to open meeting laws B) binding arbitration is outlawed C) government workers can no longer be protected by seniority or tenure (this means the worst employees, rather than the youngest or cheapest, can be fired).
  9. Education reform – A) statewide school empowerment and decentralization B) statewide open enrollment C) charter school institute (to regulate, oversee, and approve new charter schools) D) teacher evaluations and school grades E) end social promotion in early grades F) PARENTAL CHOICE – Republicans don’t have the votes but at the very least, Republicans can capture the moral high ground and call for scholarships for special needs and low income students.
  10. Sell non-essential state assets like Forestry Nurseries – seriously, why is the state growing plants when the private sector already operates several plant nurseries? Force local governments to sell their non-essential assets like golf courses, tennis courts, and gun ranges. Think about this for a second - the government is threatening to cut "essential" services while they still provide luxury perks like these. Sell the assets and sweep some of those funds.
  11. Freeze new public school construction (allow only new charter schools because their capital cost is paid for by the private sector). Why do this? CCSD was building new schools during the middle of a recession while they were losing students. Sweep some surplus funds from school districts. CCSD, for example, is sitting on $900 million – take $100-200 million before raising taxes.
  12. Look into leasing state highways. Indiana made $3.85 billion on a 40 year lease for a 157 mile long highway. Nevada could make at least that much for I-80 and I-15. The money could be used to prop up government spending to avoid making real cuts, refill our rainy day fund, and provide a tax rebate. We could even lower Nevada’s notoriously high gas tax since highway maintenance will now be done by the companies operating the highways.

Once all of that is complete, and there is still a budget shortfall, then look at raising taxes. But seriously, take a look at EVERYTHING on the table and don’t let Democrats (or the Las Vegas Sun editorial board) get away with empty rhetoric.

11 comments:

  1. Yawn.

    Conservatives. The great defenders of the status quo.

    If we had small government in this state, the biennial budget could be as small as $160M. That's right. 1-6-0. *Existing* mining taxes plus a few months of retail sales taxes would cover it.

    Bye bye bloated NSHE. Bye bye UNLV, DRI, CSN, HSC, etc. Bye bye Hauck, Smatresk, and Dina. Bye bye CCSD, Carlos, and Walt. And on and on and on.

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  2. Patrick, you've really wandered into a garden of vapors:

    Patrick said:
    "There is no empirical evidence to suggest progressives work or live real lives more frequently than conservatives or libertarians."

    I said:
    How could such a closeted libertarian/pseudo conservative like you have any way of measuring or quantifying this? You wake up with a set of preconceived notions and search out like minded, similarly funded tripe as your Neanderthal leaning NPRI. You have the credibility of a defense attorney for OJ Simpson in a Las Vegas courtroom. We believe you say what you do, but anyone with a lick of sense knows it is bunk. And OJ is in jail.

    Patrick said:
    "In fact, in the book Who Really Cares, the author finds that people who think government should be limited actually volunteer more than people who think government should do more".

    I say:
    As usual another ridiculous stat by you. The empirical evidence is that every person has a capacity to help others and most do on a daily basis to one degree (usually unmeasured) or another. There are many people in the ghetto's of America that on a percentage of income and time outperform Bill and Melinda Gates every day. That is not to dismiss the Gates family largess. It is needed.

    Patrick said:
    "The reason liberal talk does so poorly is 1) print and tv media is generally left-of-center already 2) progressives want other people to foot the bill, which is why NPR is left of center.

    I say:

    "Liberal" as you call it radio has never been given a seat at the proverbial table. It was never necessary until the right wing hatred appeared upon the radio scene and banned free thought and expression from their shows. Right wing radio is clearly anti half of the American population, probably more like 65% of America. The ULTRA Empirical evidence shows that more than half of America is realistic (What you would call liberal) and is willing to give you your God (My God too), guns, and Hatred of gays, if you try to pretend that the airwaves are fairly represented you have the credibility of OJ's Attorney for his appeal arguing he was just at the Station casino for a hot dog and some old pals of his showed up...

    ...with guns.

    Patrick Said:
    "This is also why left-of-center think tanks (especially those to the far left) don't do as well as right-of-center think tanks."

    I say:

    They are both corrupt, as are the people who are employed by them. The pomposity with which you opine that think tanks have any ethical use in society is heretical to rational thought. They are used to fool, cajole, push, and propagandize your fellow human beings.

    You are blinded from what should be one of the most easy things to see, the shame of those who work for those firms, the women who give lap dances at least come close to being honest. The employees of think tanks should be offshored to China, where they have sent millions and millions of American jobs.

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  3. Anonymous 1, you can't get from a $7 billion general fund budget to $160 million in one day with a democracy. Democracy means slow change. Democracy means we have to convince other people there is a better way to do things.

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  4. Anonymous 2,

    Liberal radio has been given a fair shake. It failed in the open market. Not enough people want to pay to hear it.

    You are incorrect to assume that working for a think tank means people can't be fair or open minded. You might as well say university professors are incapable of fairness because universities are essentially think tanks.

    Finally the book Who Really Cares does in fact quantify charity. Hours volunteered, dollars donated, amount of blood given etc. Generally, people who favor limited government give more. Generally people who believe government should do more, give less. As the author states, belief in the welfare state tends to subsidize and replace actual charity.

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  5. >> you can't get from a $7 billion general fund budget to $160 million in one day with a democracy. <<

    In a democracy it's hard to cut *anything*. Only a little harder to eliminate *everything*. I want to see small government in the next few years, not in some theoretical, distant future (ie never). Incrementalism is *pointless*.

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  6. Patrick, I encourage you to post a link to this article on The Great Ruins of Las Vegas Tour on Facebook. Maybe we can generate a discussion there.

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  7. NPRI always the voice of corporate robber barons. Cut services, cut pay and benefits to those people but make the ruling elite richer.

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  8. What's on the table? Higher taxes. Higher spending. From today's LVRJ:

    ---------------------------------------------
    >> As a senator, McGinness frequently served as chairman or ranking Republican on the Taxation Committee. He voted for the bill that increased taxes by more than $830 million in 2003 .. [snip] His son, Ryan, is director of the state's business office in Washington, D.C. <<
    -------------------------------------------

    What a charade. Our mealy-mouthed GOP Senators have signaled their willingness for higher taxes and spending. After all, how else would Ryan find a job?

    After > 30 years of Raggio's RINO activism for bigger and BIGGER government, why did the Republicans finally sanction him? Because he voted for Reid. How pathetic!

    The Senate GOP Caucus completely disavows any meaningful criticism of Raggio's RINO-ism by picking McGinness (Raggio-lite) to replace him.

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  9. You stated the following:Government worker union reform – A) negotiations are subject to open meeting laws B) binding arbitration is outlawed C) government workers can no longer be protected by seniority or tenure (this means the worst employees, rather than the youngest or cheapest, can be fired).

    I state the following: I served for the Nevada Department of Corrections. In the event this takes place by lerting go "worst employees" let me tell you the Good Old Boys win, without a doubt,sir. Favbrownnoising runs rampent. If you want a system on who you know not what you know but who you know, go to Illinois.

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  10. With our current system the good old boys are the government workers protected from their own incompetence (not all government workers are bad). The system has gone too far and the results mean we protect bad employees and discourage productive and efficient behavior.

    My dad couldn't fire an employee under him who was late to work everyday on the grounds that being to work on time wasn't in the job description.

    ReplyDelete