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Go slow in hiring for state positions

Nevada Appeal editorial board

Whether you agree or disagree with state budget increases eventually approved by the Legislature, one of the results is that Gov. Kenny Guinn has melted the freeze on hiring and hundreds of employees will be joining the state workforce.

Because state government is the largest employer in Carson City, this is good news on at least two fronts. It will help boost the local economy, and state workers who have been laboring under staff shortages will get some long-anticipated help.

It’s worth repeating two truths from the legislative debate over budget increases — most of them were needed to keep state services abreast of population growth, and nobody really knows how much the new taxes will generate.

So those who castigated Guinn for his record budget must also acknowledge that Nevada has led the nation in population growth in the past decade.

But Guinn was also wise to caution his department heads to go slowly on hiring for the 500-some positions authorized in the budget.

“Before we fill some of them, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the money in hand to do it,” he noted.

Because it’s also worth remembering the devastating blow to Nevada’s and the nation’s economies in September 2001. Had economic growth continued apace, the whole budget confrontation of 2003 may never have been necessary.

Meanwhile, the best prognosticators can’t know for sure whether Nevada’s economy will continue its stilted recovery, will gather a head of steam and rebound beyond expectation, or will suffer some other unforeseen setback.

There’s also much disagreement over whether the tax increases will hinder business growth.

The proper course now is to be as conservative as possible in filling those positions.