Governor didn't create budget crisis, but it's up to him to find solutions

It's fashionable these days to give our embattled governor a kick while he's down, and now even the national media and some of his former political allies are descending. He's brought much of that on himself, of course, with questionable behavior in his personal life and questionable decisions and statements in handling the affairs of Nevada.

Before this devolves into an old-fashioned mob scene, however, it's worth spelling out one thing the governor is not responsible for: Nevada's unprecedented budget crisis. No, that is the product of a poorly devised tax system that leaves the state with fat pockets in a good economy and in the poor house in times like these.

Against the magnitude of this shortfall, it's unlikely that even the best of politicians could devise a rescue plan that would keep them out of hot political water ... there are simply no easy solutions, even if the governor released himself from his no-tax increase pledge.

We have concerns about the governor's plan for 14-percent across-the-board cuts to state agencies, and we have concerns about his plans to raise short term cash by taking a payout from tobacco companies in exchange for giving up future payments.

But when it comes to offering up other solutions, the quiet from his political opponents has been deafening.

Still, the governor's leadership on the issue has been suspect. He has failed to build a non-partisan coalition for the good of Nevada (the SAGE commission charged with cutting government waste is unlikely to be the solution to the shortfall). He also should be focusing on far more than fixing short term budget shortfalls ... that's merely a symptom of a larger problem.

The governor should be bringing people to the table to talk about building a tax system that will ensure Nevada is insulated from this kind of economic chaos in the future, that schools and local governments are not held hostage by the fortunes of the gaming industry.

If he can show the courage and vision to accomplish that, he'd build a legacy that would outlast the memories of his messy divorce.

• This editorial represents the view of the Nevada Appeal Editorial Board.


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