Comparing cuts in the public and the private sectors

Victor Joecks

Gov. Sandoval's speech last night (if you missed it, Write on Nevada's live blog is here) and his proposed budget (2,942-page PDF here) are going to drive much of the conversation both in Nevada and on this blog over the next few months. This is especially true because Democrats likely won't release their plan to raise taxes until sometime in May.

Before we dive into the details, let's compare spending reductions in the public sector to those in the private sector. Gov. Sandoval's budget does contain some cutbacks – a 5 percent reduction in state worker pay, slightly less money for education, unfunded responsibilities for county governments and a smaller government subsidy for higher education, among other things. But these cutbacks only result in an 8 percent reduction in General Fund spending, to $5.8 billion, and several hundred million in spending outside of the General Fund for things normally funded by the General Fund.

Let's compare that to the private sector and the cutbacks some families, individuals and business have had to make.

"He's looking forward with optimism. I'm looking forward with skepticism," said Susan Beyer, who is unemployed and looking for work.

But Beyer also said Nevadans need to learn to cut back, as her family has had to do.

"We've had to cut back 70 percent," she said. Nevadans need to "put your big girl panties on and go ahead." [Emphasis added]

Cuts of 8 percent (plus hundreds of millions in additional spending) compared to 70 percent cutbacks. That's the perspective Nevada's lawmakers need to remember as they consider Nevada's budget in this next session.