Why “Warnings of drastic cuts fall on public’s deaf ears”

Victor Joecks

Government officials are wondering why you don’t believe their hyperbole.

An unintentionally hilarious bit of analysis from the Las Vegas Sun on why the public isn’t responding to the doomsday predictions of public officials.

The state budget director asked departments to prepare scenarios describing 10 percent spending cuts. And the state agency heads delivered their reports Sept. 1.

The governor’s office won’t release the documents, but agency heads describe the cuts as “ugly.” Programs for the elderly and disabled will be eliminated. Hundreds of public employees will be laid off. About 3,000 prisoners will be released. School districts will go bankrupt.

But let’s admit: You don’t believe it.

After three years of budget-cutting and belt-tightening and predictions of pending bureaucratic catastrophes, the warnings have almost lost meaning.

Residents have heard the dire predictions before – at least four times during the state’s previous rounds of budget cuts – and the doomsayers were wrong.

Yep, David McGrath Schwartz, who wrote this piece, admits that government’s been crying wolf and lying for the last three years about the impact of budget cuts – including all of those “we’ve cut to the bone” cries and, my all-time favorite bit of hyperbole, Jim Rogers threatening to blow his brains out if the NSHE budget cuts passed.

What’s ironic is that while Schwartz details all of the reasons why Nevadans shouldn’t trust government officials’ doomsday predictions, he then appears to buy into a couple of government-approved reasons for why the public is skeptical – agencies haven’t released their detailed budgets yet and that “agency heads, the governor’s senior staff and legislators have avoided truly gruesome cuts.” These reasons fall flat, however, because we’ve heard them before and, as Schwartz just detailed, they were lies.

Citizens aren’t buying into government hyperbole for a variety of reasons. First, it’s hyperbole. Second, these government officials and leftists are now known liars. Third, many Nevadans have had to make budget cuts of greater than 10 percent in their lives and businesses. Even the hyper-liberal Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada cut its budget by 20 percent when times got tough. It didn’t kill PLAN, and it won’t kill government. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, government officials and bureaucrats still aren’t being honest with the public.

Consider this sidebar from Schwartz’s analysis: “Nevada’s budget director has put the two year shortfall at $3 billion, and that’s after several rounds of cuts in a state government that’s among the nation’s leanest by almost any measure. More cuts undoubtedly will be part of any budget-balancing package.”

This statement is misleading. Andrew Clinger, Nevada’s budget director, has put the state’s two-year shortfall at $3 billion, but what neither Clinger nor Schwartz mentions is that the “$3 billion shortfall” figure contains a $1.5 billion spending increase. Seriously. Read this article and look at Clinger’s e-mail for yourself.

Also unreported is that Nevada’s state and local government tax collections are above the national average. Because Nevada is so decentralized, the state has intentionally delegated a lot of responsibility and tax dollars to local governments.

Until Nevada’s politicians and government bureaucrats start being honest about Nevada’s budget situation, the public will and should remain highly skeptical.

Update: Fixed a bad link.