Giving money back … could it become a trend? |

Giving money back … could it become a trend?

Nevada has gotten some surprising sources of funding in recent weeks, most recently from a law firm that auditors said was overpaid by the Nevada College Savings Program. That firm denies there was an overpayment, but sent back more than $95,000 anyway as a goodwill gesture.

Before that, a guilt-ridden state employee sent $30 to the state Treasurer’s Office as repayment for time wasted on the job. Included was a note saying, “the other day at work, I was wasting time and thus, unjustly taking money from the Nevada taxpayers.”

In the grand scheme of a multi-billion dollar budget, that cash is barely noticeable. But who knows, maybe others will take notice and follow suit.

The federal government, for example, might realize that its unfunded mandates are unfair and send us checks for millions of dollars. No Child Left Behind might not be so bad if fulfilling its mandates didn’t require breaking the bank for new programs so kids can pass tests.

And the Real ID Act, which will require all of Nevada’s residents to reapply for drivers’ licenses and show proof of residency, is going to cost the state at least $30 million. The treasury eagerly awaits the check from Washington, D.C., for that one.

The state legislators themselves ought to consider giving some money back. After all, didn’t they gleefully pass a bill giving “green” tax breaks without realizing it was going to cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars, money that is desperately needed to fund other priorities. And, though legislators smile when they talk about tax and spending caps, their eagerness to enact such measures during recent sessions is proving unfair to Nevada’s rural counties. Maybe the checks in those cases should go to the counties who have real concerns about going bankrupt in the future.

But this is all wishful thinking, of course. It’s a pleasant story that a state worker developed a conscious. For the government to do so might just take a miracle.