Assembly Ways and Means committee wants to enable Nevada’s boom-bust cycle

Victor Joecks

And unfortunately, their vote was unanimous.

The Assembly Ways and Means committee unanimously passed AB469, designed to force Gov. Jim Gibbons' hand in accepting all of the stimulus money for unemployment benefits for which Nevada is eligible.

If you're wondering what this has to do with Nevada's boom-bust cycle, consider this a shameless plug for my new commentary — "Enabling Nevada's boom-bust cycle" — which fully explains the dangers with this bill.

But here's the lowdown. Nevada must expand unemployment eligibility to receive $77 million of federal stimulus funds for unemployment benefits. The problem is, when the money runs out, the program doesn't.

If this bill passes, Nevada will have created a program that is guaranteed to lead to future shortfalls.

Isn't that what the legislature and governor are complaining about right now? We're told that Nevada's government grew too fast and didn't save enough. Now that the economy and tax collections have slowed down, the legislature is faced with the "crisis" of either bringing government spending back to sustainable levels or raising taxes.

So the Ways and Means committee's response is to expand a program that is guaranteed to bust in the near future? Awesome.

In my commentary, I specifically question Speaker Buckley for spending months touring the state talking about the need for sustainable budgeting and then spearheading support for this bill. Since this bill passed the committee unanimously, that critique is now bipartisan.

There is a glimmer of hope that some legislators will have the political courage to say no to short-term monies that create long-term deficits — the very thing Speaker Buckley previously claimed she wanted. But it's only a glimmer.

Several of the committee's Republicans expressed continued concern that the measure would create an future [sic] unfunded burden on the state's businesses and said they reserved their right to change their vote on the floor.