To provide a little more perspective to those of you foolish enough to buy the notion that the Legislature has already “cut to the bone” and, therefore, has no choice but to raise taxes, consider the following.
In 2003, the Legislature approved the largest tax hike in state history – $836 million.
In 2005, tax money was gushing into state coffers so fast that Gov. Kenny Guinn had to rebate $300 million just so legislators couldn’t spend it all. The budget approved that year was $5.9 billion.
In 2007, with Gov. Kenny out of office, Gov. Jim Gibbons and the Legislature went hog wild and added another billion dollars to the budget, making damn sure there were no further rebates. They spent every last dime….and then some.
Just three months later, signs of the impending recession began to surface. The governor took some executive actions to reduce spending and the Legislature, through two special sessions, rubber stamped those actions and approved a few belt-tightening measures of their own.
“When the current biennium ends June 30,” a recent Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial notes, “the state will have spent between $6.2 and $6.3 billion on general fund programs.” And that’s pretty much the exact same amount Gov. Gibbons proposed to spend in his budget last January. In other words, no cuts in spending over existing spending.
Of course, since projected revenues are now set at $5.5 billion, the Legislature does have to trim about $500 million from Gibbons’ January budget (they’ve already raised $200 million-plus with a room tax hike).
But not really. Since Nevada decided to chow down on federal “stimulus” money, the budget deficit is really just over about $100 million. And that can be covered by simply scaling back the pretty much ineffective and non-essential class-size reduction and full-day kindergarten programs, not to mention the entire Department of Cultural Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at UNLV.
So the fact is there is absolutely no need to raise any taxes on anybody in the middle of this recession. All we need is for legislators to quit digging deeper holes and start making responsible spending decisions.