We’ve Got To Raise Spending In Order To Cut It

Great Review Journal editorial today:

…despite the fact both population growth and school enrollments have leveled off — even the “maintain services at current levels” spending Carson City Democrats apparently consider “as low as they’ll go” represents 17 percent more spending than the budget enacted by the Legislature two years ago — 26 percent more than actual spending of about $6.3 billion.

For months, the bureaucrats and Democratic legislators have been making a show of tearing their hair, weeping and moaning about “cuts,” lambasting Gov. Gibbons for submitting a budget that will supposedly leave schools and hospitals no choice but to close their doors, leave children and old people to starve in the streets, etc.

What cuts? Where are the cuts? Most Nevada taxpayers are figuring out how to tighten their belts and live on less. But a 17 percent spending increase — a revenue increase of 37 percent over what’s now flowing in to state coffers, new or increased taxes to generate an extra $2.16 billion, to a new record income level of $7.96 billion — is the minimum lawmakers will consider?

Yes, state government’s general fund actually spent $6.3 billion from the GF over the last two years, but the revenues were only $5.8 billion. Incidentally, that is just about the same amount of revenue we received in the prior biennium. For the coming biennium, the latest estimates (which are unofficial guesstimates from the Legislature, who has a long history of manipulating guesstimates for political purposes) say we will collect $5.1 billion, plus about $250 million from the new room tax, and about $400 million from the federal stimulus money.

So the actual revenue decline (assuming the federal stimulus and room tax) with no further tax increases is less than 1%. Those are the facts, pure and simple. Our population is barely growing now and the CPI is also very low.

To say a 37% increase in revenue is imposing harsh cuts is only possible in the delusional world of government spending. The problem centers on the fact that the government (particularly the state legislature) increases spending on autopilot by granting raises and expanding benefits every year, and any reduction in those automatic increases is falsely described as a draconian cut. The majority of the political media – Ralston and Sebelius – make no bones that they passionately desire more government, so they repeat the false descriptions from legislative leaders, and portions of their audience too lazy to check the math buy into and repeat it.

So now legislative leaders say it’s a cut if further increases are not implemented. There are a lot of private businesses that would be real happy to have only a 1% reduction in revenues and the spending adjustments needed to balance the books would be much easier than what they are facing now.

Oh, did we mention 20% of the employees at the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce just LOST THEIR JOBS!

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