Editorial: State budget could use some belt tightening

The members of the Nevada Economic Forum met earlier this month and came up with a forecast for how much the total state general fund revenues will be for the next two years.

The Economic Forum was created by lawmakers in 1993. It is responsible for providing forecasts of revenues for each upcoming biennial budget period. The figures are binding on the governor and the Legislature in crafting a budget, so they don’t wildly overestimate potential revenue and cause a budget crisis when funds come up short.

The forum members reported that the past two-year’s revenues turned out to be $8.244 billion and the coming two-year period should generate 7.2 percent more funds or $8.835 billion, after application of all applicable tax credits, of which there are a number.

Outgoing Republican Gov. Brain Sandoval has already drafted a budget for the next biennium, which will be handed over to incoming Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and the majority Democratic lawmakers, who take office in January. Of course, they all appear to anticipate spending every last dime of that $591 million windfall even though current inflation is running only 2.5 percent.

Much of the anticipated money is being targeted for expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare and various education spending schemes.

After the Economic Forum issued its forecast, Sisolak gave a statement to the press saying, “I am encouraged by how the state is performing. I look forward to reviewing the final forecast released by the Economic Forum and creating a roadmap to implement the priorities that matter to Nevadans. I am committed to building a bright future for our state and that starts with building a budget that funds the initiatives that will get us there.”

May we be so brazen as to suggest that taxpayers might appreciate an “initiative” that lets them keep a bit more of their paychecks. Or at the very least pour more of that anticipated-but-not-guaranteed revenue into the rainy day savings account for that time in the future when the outlook is not so rosy, because everyone knows that once government spends a certain amount of money it expects to continue to do so in perpetuity.

For the record, from 2011 to 2017 the state general fund budget grew by 32.3 percent, while inflation amounted to 7.9 percent.

Though we know we are whistling in the Democratic wind, we also suggest that the burdensome commerce tax passed in 2015 as part of Sandoval’s $1.5 billion tax hike be repealed. The tax was imposed even though the voters in November 2014 rejected a commerce tax at the ballot box by 79 percent to 21 percent. The commerce tax is expected to generate only $445 million in the coming biennium and could be covered by that extra $591 million in the projection.

Every Nevada business must file a commerce tax form with the state, even if the business owes no tax. For many, compliance costs exceed the taxes owed. That is a hidden tax on the state economy and retards job growth.

Lawmakers should think about the burden on taxpayers as well as the beneficiaries of their customarily spendthrift ways.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

11 comments on “Editorial: State budget could use some belt tightening

  1. Anonymous says:

    The government shouldn’t spend the money allocated for the government because why?

    It sure can’t be because all the things we demand our governments do, is currently being accomplished right? I mean, there is the “worst schools in the country” thing that certainly couldn’t be helped through the use of more money right? Got to be enough police and fire department personnel that allow all the things those guys are mandated to do, to be done right? There are aurely enough judges, and court personnel that make our system of government efficient so that no lack of space,mor courtrooms, or interpreters or reporters are ever needed to ensure the effective and efficient administration of justice in the state right?

    There’s no lack of dmv clerks, or offices, that could possibly delay a citizen from having their issues handled in a timely fashion right?

    Yep, I’m sure whatever monies that are collected are MORE than enough to do all those things that citizens demand their government do, were collected, heck, 50 years ago right? Let’s just go back to them days,.

    Geesh.

  2. Rincon says:

    What we receive for our tax money is just as important as how much we pay. Australia pays way more than we do in taxes, but their economy and income per citizen have grown much faster than ours, they haven’t had a recession in 27 years, and their debt per citizen is less than half of ours – an example of a country with higher taxes and a better economy than ours. They also have very few ghettos. Reducing taxes for the sake of reducing taxes can lead to problems, as shown by our ridiculously high federal deficit, which increased every time we lowered taxes but decreased after the Bush and Clinton tax increases. Whether extra spending is worthwhile depends on how it’s spent and whether or not it’s borrowed money.

    Since Nevada is 41st in the nation for per student spending, it’s possible that this would be money well spent. As for Medicaid, if needs are met that aren’t being met now, it doesn’t necessarily count as wasted money. http://www.governing.com/gov-data/education-data/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data.html

  3. Ask the French about taxes.

  4. Steve says:

    Taxes enacted in a political policy response to politicized interpreted science.

  5. Deleted says:

    Ask the French?

    Thomas really?

    Let’s ask the Swedes instead.

  6. Steve says:

    Yeah cuz you don’t like the truth!

  7. Anonymous says:

    “Sweden has the highest tax rate in the OECD, followed by Denmark and Japan (all of which made an appearance in the Round of 16) with rates over 50%. You can see how the U.S. measures up to other OECD countries, including the OECD average, as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) here.Jul 13, 2018”

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/07/13/the-world-cup-countries-with-the-highest-and-lowest-tax-rates/

  8. Steve says:

    And that makes France all the more interesting you hack!

  9. Rincon says:

    Show me a correlation between low taxes and a high standard of living, and people may believe you, but that doesn’t exist. In fact, the converse is likely. How taxes are spent is far more important than the amount of the taxes. Taxes pay for most health care in all other OECD countries, yet they all have longer living citizens with far less of their GDP spent. In this case, so called private enterprise is the clear underperformer.

  10. Steve says:

    And yet, France is rioting.

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