Just when state agencies thought it couldn't get tougher ...

Imagine if you suddenly had to cut your household budget by 8 percent. If you're like many Nevada families stretching every dollar to make ends meet, you'd be looking at a stark Christmas.

That's the situation the state finds itself in. If there were any doubt about the severity of this economic downturn, it was removed on Tuesday when the governor ordered most agencies to plan for 8 percent budget cuts, 3 percent more than he'd previously ordered.

Given the economy, it's hard to argue with the course of action the governor is taking. But even many fiscal conservatives would acknowledge that cuts of that magnitude are well past cutting into the fat of state agencies. They cut into the meat, and many Nevada residents will feel their impact.

Just what that impact may be is unknown because the governor is keeping the proposed cuts secret. Secrecy, which is unfortunately becoming a pattern for the Gibbons administration, breeds mistrust.

President Harry Truman put it succinctly: "Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix."

A wiser course of action for the governor would be to open a continuous discourse with the state's residents or, at a minimum, lawmakers who take the phone calls from their constituents.

He'll need their support and ideas if the economy continues to worsen.

• This editorial represents the view of the Nevada Appeal editorial board.


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