Commentary: The governor’s sorry State of the State
It appears that Gov. Jim Gibbons has decided to blame Democrats, the feds and teacher unions for everything. The governor’s State of the State message on Feb. 8 sounded more like campaign rhetoric than a plan for economic recovery.
Gibbons lashed out at Nevada Democrats, claiming they had caused the current deficit. I don’t think so. He charged that the feds had not been willing to help, but that’s not accurate either. The feds have made stimulus money available to us, and it has been helpful in saving teaching positions and
public safety jobs.
I’m equally certain that Sen. Harry Reid has been working to provide more support for both rural and urban Nevada. He’s been quiet successful, but the governor never said a word.
I’ve been in Nevada for 25 years and spent nine of them working for state government. From all that I’ve read and experienced about our state services, Nevada has one of the smallest and most efficient state governments in the nation. Talking about reducing the size of state government to save money is illogical.
The governor ignored the need for a broader tax base and a greater reliance on businesses other than gaming and tourism. Gaming and tourism will come back but never to their former levels. We need to reinvent ourselves, and develop new ways to support high-tech businesses.
We needed to hear from the governor about new, high-tech jobs. The California waste management system (mentioned by the governor) may have merit, but it has also received much bad press. New energy sources might be a solution, but we need well-educated engineers and high quality research support to pull that off. Gov. Gibbons proposed cuts to our university system that will cripple it for generations.
“No new taxes” appeals to the anti-tax conservatives and the anti-government ideologues, but taking taxes off the table and imposing draconian cuts in government will not allow thoughtful policy makers to solve our state’s economic problems. Sen. Horsford noted in his response to the governor that although new taxes now are probably not feasible, the Legislature will have to think about our tax structure for the future.
I listened to several local school superintendents and university officials address the Interim Finance Committee and was impressed. They want to help, but they can’t just stand by and watch their institutions die. They want to find solutions.
Let’s do all we can to help them and the Legislature find workable solutions.
• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.