Facts are meaningless

Patrick Gibbons

Homer Simpson, a sage for modern America (as sad or as promising as that might be) once said, "Facts are meaningless; they can be used to prove anything."

If one's facts are sourced from Nevada's own government, then Homer may be more correct than we would hope.

State Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, with the help of Global Insights, revenue data from the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB), and generous population estimates, generated a graph showing Nevada's general fund revenue per resident for FY 2008-09 to be below the levels for 1995-1996.

Even though NPRI is wary of Global Insights' potential manipulation of inflation rates (NPRI pulled inflation numbers directly from the Consumer Price Index and did not alter them, whereas Global Insights set 1996 as a base year, which could potentially cloud the data), we decided to assume the accuracy of all of Global Insights' numbers, with the exception of general revenue funds.

Buckley's population estimates include 3.6 percent population growth for 2008 and a 3.8 percent population growth for 2009. The State Demographer's office recently projected 2.6 percent for 2008 and 3.2 percent for 2009 (see page 16). The potential overestimation by more than 46,000 residents will play favorably toward Buckley's position.

Using the Economic Forum's general fund revenue data (which is different from LCB data) and all of Buckley's generous data on inflation and population growth, NPRI finds that FY 2008-09 general fund revenue per resident is short of the 1996 number by a measly $1.79 per resident.  (See our comparison of revenue data here)

You can prove Buckley right, or wrong, depending on your source, population assumptions, or inflation rates  leading us to believe that in this particular case, these facts are indeed meaningless.