Nevada faces the largest budget deficit in the country for the upcoming fiscal year, according to a recent survey of states by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal Washington, D.C., think tank.
Nevada will have a 30 percent gap between spending and revenue, edging out Arizona, which faces a 29.8 percent deficit, according to the survey. The gap is calculated by comparing expected revenue to the sums that states see as necessary to maintain current state services.
Many states are facing budget cuts and considering raising taxes to fill similar budget gaps. But economists and lawmakers say Nevada's dubious distinction reflects its reliance on sales and gambling taxes and its dependence on tourism.
Elliott Parker, a University of Nevada, Reno, economics professor, said that with Americans saving more, "people are cutting back on vacations, their gambling and their durable purchases, and that hurts Nevada more than other states since our tax base is so unbalanced."
Joe Edson of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada said the state has long needed a broader-based tax system to prevent deep cuts in services during economic downturns. He said the state lets most businesses off without paying taxes as they do in other states.