Roberson nails it: Spending growth caused current budget problems

Victor Joecks

There was a lot of great stuff in the papers this weekend, including Sen. Michael Roberson’s letter to the editor in the Review-Journal that correctly identifies the cause of our current budget problems.

Back during the 2003-05 biennium, Nevada’s general fund spending increased 36 percent thanks to a significant tax hike and an economic bubble. The combination of both events pumped considerable sums of money into the government’s coffers. From there, Nevada’s spending continued to grow faster than inflation right up until the economic bubble burst.

Even as thousands of Nevadans were laid off and hundreds of millions of dollars in wealth were lost, the Nevada Legislature proceeded to raise taxes again in order to keep the government spending bubble going despite a nationwide economic collapse.

With fewer people, fewer jobs, lower incomes and less wealth in the Silver State today than in the boom years, it should come as no surprise that tax revenues have dropped. We simply cannot afford boom-era government spending in the middle of a prolonged recession.

That kind of spending growth was always unsustainable, and now, lawmakers have to deal with the consequences of such reckless government growth.

The solution isn’t higher taxes that enable more reckless spending after the economy picks up. The solution is returning spending levels to where they were previously.