Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley proposes financial cushion
Associated Press Writer
Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley said Tuesday that Nevada’s fiscal crisis proves it’s time to redesign the financial underpinnings of state government and set long-term financial goals.
“We can do better,” Buckley told the Assembly Taxation Committee. “We need to adopt methods of eliminating our boom-and-bust cycle, and to find long-term, bipartisan solutions to the problems facing the state.”
Buckley proposed revamping the state’s “rainy day” fund, and said she will sponsor a bill requiring a forced state savings account to help deal with fiscal crises. The account would be funded by one cent of every dollar in state revenue.
Buckley also said she will sponsor a measure to put any leftover funds in the state’s distributive school account schools into an emergency fund for K-12 schools.
“Never will there be a time when legislators will appreciate the need for us to have a better rainy day fund,” Buckley said. “So I think the session for us to consider these measures is now.”
Buckley also proposed reviewing the many tax abatements and exemptions that have developed over the years, and aggressively enforcing existing laws to ensure that all taxes that are due are actually collected.
“It’s amazing how many people go to the secretary of state to incorporate, but never find their way to the Department of Taxation,” Buckley said. “It’s not fair to those Nevada businesses who are paying their taxes, to have some not paying. And it’s amazing how much our collections will go up if we’re more aggressive about making sure everyone’s paying.”
Buckley calculated the estimated value of tax abatements from fiscal 1998 to 2007 at nearly $1 billion.
Buckley said she has spoken to audiences around the state on how government revenues are collected and spent, and how the state ranks in services. She pointed out that CNBC ranked Nevada as the 45th best place to do business in 2008.
Nevada also ranked 47th in the nation in K-12 per-pupil funding in 2007, and 49th in the nation in per capita spending on higher education in 2006. The state also is the worst in the nation in terms of total spending in relation to gross domestic product.