How do you do math?

Patrick Gibbons

Still no word – after multiple requests – from the Gibbons administration on how the state is getting the 34 percent budget-cut figure it's been giving the media.

Just looking at the general fund, we see that Nevada is projected to collect $5.8 billion for this biennium. That happens to be the same amount the legislature appropriated from the general fund in the last biennium. After adjusting for inflation, the difference in general fund projections between this biennium and the last is just 2 percent – that is, our 2007-2009 general fund is projected to take in only 2 percent less than what was appropriated from the inflation-adjusted general fund during 2005-2007 biennium.

So a tax revenue shortfall can't be the only explanation. Unless the Gibbons administration provides an answer, one can only assume that policymakers are expecting a 25 percent increase in spending over what the legislature originally appropriated for this biennium. How much of this is driven by archaic and overly generous funding formulas? It appears as though most of the alleged "34 percent cut" comes from unwillingness in the legislature to review and change formula-driven spending and to instead focus all budget cuts on current services.

Disturbingly, this would mean lawmakers have foresaken their fiduciary responsibilities and turned decision-making over to strict and unrealistic math formulas written several years ago.