What might have been

Patrick Gibbons

As last week's blog entry (It's the spending, stupid) demonstrated, Nevada's budget crisis was self-inflicted … too much spending and not enough self control.  But what if Nevada had shown restraint over the last decade? Would we be better off or would the reduction in spending have made the state incapable of providing basic services for a rapidly growing population?

If Nevada had limited spending increases to inflation plus population growth (allowing the government to provide the same services per capita) starting in 1997, the state would now have a $3.9 billion surplus generated over the past decade instead of a $1.2 billion shortfall.

While the Left may act like Gov. Gibbons' proposed 4 percent cuts are draconian enough to send the state back to the Stone Age, reality suggests that a 17 percent cut (from 2007 levels) would only return Nevada to a responsible spending level equal to inflation plus population growth over the last decade.

The Left's concerns over a Stone Age Nevada may never be realized; even a 40 percent cut in the state's budget would only send us back to 1997. If memory serves me correctly the only thing prehistoric about 1997 was my old Chevy Impala … I think I even had Internet way back then.

Nevada's government has grown faster than population growth and inflation combined.