LV Sun inaccurately reports the size of NV’s government…

Victor Joecks

To justify raising taxes and growing government.

Unfortunately, this election cycle has been steeped in the Tea Party’s rhetoric, and as a result, there are too many candidates who proudly think they have the “solution” to the state’s problems – slash the “bloated” budget and curb “big” government. Those candidates who make such claims fail to see through their narrow ideology to understand the facts: Nevada has a paucity of services and one of the smallest governments per capita in the nation. [Emphasis added]

Fact: Both the Tax Foundation and the Brookings Institution report that Nevada’s per-capita tax revenues for state and local government are above the national median.

NPRI’s fiscal analyst Geoffrey Lawrence explains:

Yet, the context to this debate [about Nevada’s budget] has been convoluted by frequent misrepresentations about Nevada’s status as a relatively low-tax state. A more accurate characterization is that Nevada is a relatively decentralized state.

On a per capita basis, total state and local tax revenues are above the national median. According to the Tax Foundation (Table 6, page 9), Nevada ranks 25th in terms of per capita tax collections. The Tax Policy Center, sponsored jointly by the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, ranks Nevada even higher – 22nd, with almost $6,000 in per capita annual revenue.

Clearly, there is no lack of tax revenue in the Silver State, even if most revenues do go to local governments. This decentralization of services was a conscious decision made by state lawmakers who – this being a Dillon’s Rule state – have ultimate authority over the allocation of tax revenue. Due to the state’s far-flung population centers, decentralization has historically been seen as the most efficient method of delivering public services.

Understanding the true context of current debates over the next state budget is critical for lawmakers, who should make informed decisions.

When you’re just plain wrong about the facts, it’s easy to come to incorrect conclusions. The real question is will the Sun’s editorial staff admit it?

I’m not holding my breath, but I do have faith that Nevada’s citizens and lawmakers won’t be as blind to the facts as the Sun is.