Pat Hickey: Desperate times and bitter medicine |

Pat Hickey: Desperate times and bitter medicine

Pat Hickey
For the Nevada Appeal

Some may have thought Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had lit up on his own pilot study to legalize marijuana when he proposed constructing jails in Mexico to house California’s 20,000 undocumented inmates. The latest in a long line of moonbeam schemes from a California governor to outsource his state’s fiscal emergency demonstrates just how desperate times do, in fact, create desperate measures.

The illogic of the former Terminator’s rationale is something Nevadans should learn from. If he can propose building prisons outside his state, why not take it a step further and have Nevada build schools and hospitals as well if it is more cost-effective for California taxpayers? The Silver State does, after all, have experience welcoming displaced evacuees from our neighbor to the West.

Nevada already has a nice jail site standing empty out in Jean. And why not consider that big hole in the ground at Yucca Mountain? Put some bars over the opening and you’ve got a great maximum-security facility in waiting.

Pipe dreams and wishful thinking aside, Nevada is facing its own fiscal nightmare. Gov. Gibbons is planning to call state lawmakers into a special session to deal with the state’s nearly $1 billion shortfall. Taxes won’t be raised in such a shortened get-together, and likely there won’t be much of an appetite to do so when the Legislature reconvenes in 2011. Funding will have to be cut.

Make no mistake – the ensuing fights will be politically bloody. Parts of Nevada’s schools, government services and state worker paychecks will end up on the operating floor.

If there’s any solace to be felt by those in state government who will face the cuts, it should be in the realization that those in the private sector also have been experiencing the same “furloughs, cut-backs and pay reductions” in their businesses.

The governor has begun sitting down with many of those lawmakers he doesn’t like and those who don’t like him. The prospect of their “solutions” being something either side will easily accept is as unlikely as the end of the afternoon winds barreling down Kings Canyon.

Those working for the state and those working in business are all facing financial hardships. No need to get kooky like Arnold. Let’s get real as Nevadans. Working through the sad reality of 140,000 unemployed Nevadans will mean having a number of drastic measures and bitter pills to swallow before any real recovery takes place.

Making it through without the usual blame game will make us better than California.

• Pat Hickey is a Carson City native and former member of the Nevada Assembly.