Commentary: The Legislature knows and cares
I was disappointed with Frank Partlow’s column in the Reno Gazette-Journal of Nov. 1, “Legislature doesn’t know and it doesn’t care.” Mr. Partlow is the executive director of the Nevada Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission and used his position to bash the Legislature and government employees. As a former government employee, he should know better.
Mr. Partlow criticized the Legislature for spending money to study the state’s tax structure. We are now facing the worst economic crisis in our state’s modern history and we need help to decide what to do. The current tax structure is badly broken, is generally incapable of sustaining institutional needs (or infrastructure requirements) for our citizens, and, if not fixed, will lead to the demise of our state.
We are already losing population and have the second largest unemployment rate in the nation at 13.3 percent, just behind Michigan at 15 percent. This is the first problem that needs to be fixed with the creation of new, high-paying, stable jobs.
The SAGE Commission made a number of recommendations that have not been enthusiastically endorsed by the Legislature. One assumes this is because the Legislature is concerned about creating new jobs and stabilizing our tax structure. SAGE is not concerned about new jobs and is focused on cutting costs, particularly government costs.
SAGE looked at the cost of government employees and their benefits compared to private sector costs and found that pay was comparable, but that government employees had better benefits.
The reason – one of the effective recruitment tools for state employees, in Nevada as well as virtually all other states, was to offer modest wages but provide job stability and fair retirement and health benefits. The result has been an effective public employee workforce with exceptionally high productivity and stability. In Nevada, public employees are second to none.
Rather than use the effective government employee practice as a model to improve private sector productivity, profit and job creation, SAGE decided to attack the benefits of the superior government employee model and ignore the failing private sector. Other than showing a strong sense of anti-government bias one wonders what in the world SAGE was thinking?
As for candidates knocking at your door next year, I would ask if they support a strong government workforce dedicated to helping citizens when they need it. Would they support our fire and public safety employees, and support our teachers, our schools and universities to assure citizens have the education they and our state need to be successful in the 21st
If they say no, I’d say goodbye.
• Dr. Eugene T. Paslov, former Nevada superintendent of schools, is a board member for Silver State Charter High School in Carson City.