Another Opinion: How much tighter can we tighten our belts?
First aid was applied to a struggling victim last weekend. In order to close an $805 million gap in the Nevada budget, both parties of the Legislature and Gov. Jim Gibbons finally rolled up their sleeves and compromised to balance the enormous deficit and keep this state on life support.
This will be only a Band-Aid solution because according to state Budget Director Andrew Clinger, Nevada’s economy could suffer more losses in 2011. He said cuts alone would not be able to resolve future deficits.
Many of our legislators are now vowing to examine Nevada’s tax structure in 2011 and not rely so heavily on two to three major industries, something that should have been done years ago. As we have discovered during this recession, no longer can Nevada rely on gaming or tourism or construction to bail it out. During Nevada’s decades of boom, citizens enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle while reaping the benefits of government services paid from growth.
Now, the state has entered a bust phase in where every employee and state agency and all public schools must live within their means until the state can reverse this downward spiral.
Unless some solutions are ready for discussion on the first day of the Legislature next February, we can only imagine the frustration this state and its citizens will face if cuts surpassing $2 billion to $3 billion must be pared from the next biennium budget.
Nevada must diversify its economy, a warning made 30-40 years ago but ignored by most in office and business who saw their coffers being lined in gold.
And sadly, Nevadans will be paying more taxes after the 2011 Legislature meets unless the economy begins to show drastic improvement.
It’s the price all of us pay when warnings go unheeded.