Week in Review: Projections

Andy Matthews

Every week, NPRI President Andy Matthews writes a column for NPRI's week-in-review email. If you are not getting our emails, which contain our latest commentaries and news stories, you can sign up here to receive them.

I had a chance to see John Fogerty in concert a couple months ago, and while I always enjoy live music, I always come away with that one song that gets stuck in my head, usually for several weeks after the show. In this case, it was “Bad Moon Rising,” one of Fogerty’s old hits with Creedence Clearwater Revival, that simply refused to go away.

Since yesterday, however, I’ve had a different CCR tune on the brain — the old classic “Fortunate Son.” There’s one line in particular that keeps playing over and over in my head:

And when you ask ’em, “How much should we give?”
Ooh, they only answer “More! More! More!”

It’s highly unlikely that Fogerty, when he belted out this line at the Palms a few weeks back, intended it as a preview of the 2015 Nevada Legislative Session. And I hope it turns out not to be — though history provides little reason for optimism.

Yesterday brought the news that Nevada’s Economic Forum is projecting the state will bring in $6.3 billion in tax revenue over the next two fiscal years. Traditionally, the Economic Forum projections are greeted by much of Nevada’s political class with cries that the revenue figure is insufficient to run the government for the next two years — and that, therefore, taxes will need to be raised.

There will certainly be those who clamor for higher taxes once again this time around. And this will happen despite the fact that the $6.3 billion revenue figure is the highest amount ever projected for a single biennium. That’s because government agencies have submitted budget requests totaling $7.7 billion, resulting in the appearance of a significant shortfall.

But as NPRI’s own Victor Joecks pointed out yesterday, this is an old trick designed to stack the deck in favor of tax hikes. “State agencies have again submitted spending wish lists — which normally allows them to cry that receiving less than they wished for is a dire ‘cut,’” said Victor. “But receiving an increase smaller than you desired is not a cut. It’s just a smaller helping of ‘more’ than you wanted.”

Exactly. It’s akin to asking your boss for a $10,000 raise, and then, when he gives you a $5,000 raise instead, complaining that your salary has been “cut” by $5,000. No one would get away with that in the private sector. So why should our politicians?

There’s a presumption among liberals that the natural course of things is for government to keep growing, and to keep costing more money. This they define as progress. Yet in nearly every other walk of life, “progress” means the exact opposite. Products get better and better, while the cost of them, in real dollars, goes down over time.

It’s long past time for government to follow suit. Nevada’s citizens deserve it and, if last month’s elections are any guide, they’re demanding it. They shot down, by a 4-to-1 margin, a measure that would have raised taxes on businesses in order to throw more money at our structurally flawed education system. And they handed the reins of power to the major political party most closely aligned with small-government principles. The message from voters couldn’t have been clearer.

Time of course will tell how it all unfolds (and you can be sure my NPRI colleagues and I will have a lot more to say about all this in the coming weeks and months). But this time around, when Nevada’s liberals issue their typical calls for “More! More! More!” responsible policymakers would be wise to tune them out.

Thanks for reading, and take care.

Andy Matthews
NPRI President

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