Gravity check

Patrick Gibbons


For the last several months, NPRI has been writing about the budget "crisis" and wondering exactly how a 1-3 percent decline in overall spending supposedly constitutes a crisis. (This commentary takes an in-depth look at that question.)

More than mere hyperbole and rhetoric are at work here. We're in this "crisis" because tax-consuming special interests regularly fight any efforts to control state or local spending, and the Nevada Legislature willingly goes along. Thus, in their most recent special session, lawmakers evaded the need to economize and instead used fund sweeps and accounting gimmicks to maintain expenditure levels. As it turns out, a records request to Budget Director Andrew Clinger's office reveals the state plans to spend some $3.8 billion from the general fund this fiscal year. That's $300 million more than budgeted and $1 billion more than projected revenue collections. Indeed, it appears that for the entire biennium Nevada will spend about $40 million more than was budgeted.

Basically, instead of scaling back spending in anticipation of a protracted economic recession with no recovery in sight, Nevada's government has been busily ramping up spending even more! This reveals the real engine behind crisis in Nevada: government itself.