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Can you “rob” someone of money that isn’t theirs?

I read something interesting a couple weeks ago about Gov. Sandoval’s budget written by David Schwartz of the Las Vegas Sun which I neglected to comment on at the time.

According to the story, Sandoval proposes to shift $425 million (since reduced) from a Clark County capital projects fund, which, according to Sandoval critics, this amounts to “robbing” the fund. But is it?

The fund was established way back in 1998 for school construction when the property tax was raised via “Ballot Question 2.” No here’s the interesting part: Schwartz reports that when voters approved the property tax hike, proponents said it would raise $3.5 billion. But in reality, “$4.9 billion was raised because land values increased more than projected.”

So it appears that Sandoval’s proposal doesn’t “rob” a single, thin dime from what was sold to voters in 1998. They were promised $3.5 billion in school construction money and $3.5 billion was delivered and spent. What we’re actually talking about now is a pot of money created by what amounts to a windfall profit for the government.

Unless I misunderstand Schwartz’s story, the governor isn’t “robbing” Clark County’s capital projects fund; he’s using the surplus simply “to staff classrooms, not build them.” How is the governor “robbing” Clark County of money that really doesn’t belong to it in the first place? If anything, that money should be rebated back to property owners.


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