Immediately following a meeting with Gov. Jim Gibbons last week, Democratic legislators, as well as some moderate Republicans, emerged and proclaimed adamantly that the state budget couldn't be cut any further.
Wow, talk about broken records and boys who cry wolf.
These legislators have been saying there's nothing more to cut since ... well, forever. Yet somehow they keep finding things to cut, and frankly, no one's noticed. Schools are still open. Teachers are still in the classrooms. Cops are still arresting bad guys. And firefighters are still fighting fires.
Although, to be fair, they did cut the handbell class at the Las Vegas Academy this semester.
Frankly, the level of credibility enjoyed by the "sky-is-falling" crowd on these budget issues is fast approaching the level of zero. That said, it's true that continued declining tax revenues to fund the government's overspending may finally force legislators to take the kinds of drastic measures private businesses took many, many months ago.
Faced with economic reality, business owners slashed expenses, cut prices, shed unprofitable goods and services, and laid off non-essential employees. And because of those tough decisions made long ago, these companies are now leaner and poised to become profitable again.
On the other hand, the Nevada Legislature increased spending this year, raised prices (taxes) on working families, small businesses and tourists, avoided laying off any non-essential government employees and refused to shut down any non-essential programs, departments and services.
Is it any surprise that while private sector businesses are beginning to rebound, the Nevada government is in worse shape now than it's ever been?
And yet when GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval said in recent interviews that there was still room to cut in the state's budget, Keith Schwer, director of The Center for Business and Economic Research at taxpayer-funded UNLV, responded thusly:
"I guess what (Sandoval) is proposing is he wants to fire people. How many firemen and how many policemen does he want to fire? How many children are not going to have a teacher in front of them? Those are the decisions that go with that."
Such an absurd statement should disqualify Schwer from ever being quoted seriously on budget issues ever again. There are over 88,000 government workers - and they sure aren't all cops, firefighters and teachers. In fact, you can go to the Transparent Nevada Web site and find a list of each and every one of them, along with their taxpayer-funded salaries.
But what makes Schwer's asinine statement all the more outrageous is that he, himself, appears to be one of the non-cop, non-firefighter, non-teacher non-essential government employees living off taxpayers who absolutely, positively ought to be fired.
Somebody bring me one of those pink slips.
• Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a limited-government public policy organization.