Unwittingly and surely unintentionally, Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, has made the single-most compelling case for cutting the Nevada state budget. And not just by a measly 5 percent. By a LOT.
In response to the governor's prudent call last week for government agencies to prepare a list of possible budget cuts to respond to the reality of our slowing economy, here's what Buckley actually told the Las Vegas Sun: "It's sending every state agency and county government into a panic. Last week, hardly any work got done because of the panic that is out there."
Hmmmm. Hardly any work got done, huh? Did any of you notice that hardly any government work got done last week? Me, neither. which raises a few questions:
• If government workers hardly did any work last week, were their paychecks docked to reflect the absence of doing their work?
• If hardly any work got done last week, and nobody noticed, doesn't that, in and of itself, make the case that taxpayers are paying an awful lot of government workers to do work that really isn't necessary?
• If that's the case, shouldn't it be pretty easy to cut government budgets by a whole lot more than a measly 5 percent simply by eliminating all the jobs that government employees didn't do last week, which no one noticed they weren't doing?
Or maybe all this shows is that Barbara Buckley's claim of "panic" in the halls of government was nothing but a load of irresponsible, partisan flapdoodle; that government workers last week continued to do the jobs they're paid to do, many of which are essential to keeping the legitimate trains of government running on time.
Maybe what this shows is that you just can't believe any of the hysteria Buckley spouts off on this subject from this point forward.
Which brings us to the childish temper-tantrums thrown by Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid and University Chancellor Jim Rogers over the governor's call for fiscally responsible contingency plans for a little belt- tightening.
According to Rory Reid & Rogers (sounds like a law firm, doesn't it?), there's no room in their billion dollar-plus budgets to cut a measly 5 percent, despite an overall increase in the general fund budget of some 20 percent just a few short months ago.
That's right. The potential cuts aren't to existing spending, but are a small rollback of the increase in spending approved by the Legislature in June. And even when you take into consideration the measly 5 percent rollback, overall government spending will still increase by more than the rate of population growth, plus inflation.
So this is hardly draconian. Women and children won't exactly be kicked into the street and forced to eat dog food.
Nevertheless, when the governor asked Rory Reid & Rogers to make suggestions on where in their individual budgets to cut that measly 5 percent if necessary, the pair told him to pound dirt and stick it where the sun don't shine - which poses a whole new problem for the problem-plagued Gibbons administration. Politically speaking, such open, public defiance cannot go unanswered.
This is now more than a budgetary policy dispute. Rory Reid & Rogers have challenged gubernatorial authority. The prestige of the governor's office is now on the line, not just for Gibbons, but future governors as well.
If Gibbons allows Rory Reid & Rogers to get away with flipping him the bird like this without consequence, he risks seeing the revolt spread statewide. And if that happens, you might as well start calling Jim Gibbons a lame duck right now and avoid the Christmas rush.
Time for some serious wood-shedding.
• Chuck Muth, of Carson City, is president and CEO of Citizen Outreach and a political blogger. Read his views Fridays on the Appeal Opinion page or visit www.chuckmuth.com.