(Annie Black) – Writing in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, reporter David Harrison noted that “the pandemic-induced economic downturn hit the nation’s state and local governments harder and faster than any other in almost 70 years.”
“As hard as this year has been, next year could be worse,” Mr. Harrison continued. “Governments went into the downturn with fat reserve funds and have benefited from federal aid. Barring a quick economic recovery or another round of stimulus, state and local officials could have to make more cuts.”
But the impending problem is even worse in Nevada for two reasons…
1.) Because of Nevada’s heavy reliance on tourism, the economic devastation is hitting us harder than every state but Hawaii.
2.) Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has refused to take the serious budget-cutting steps needed to confront this economic reality.
Back in March, the governor ordered all “non-essential” businesses to close, resulting in hundreds of thousands of layoffs in the private sector.
But despite claiming we were “all in this together,” he refused to order the closure of non-essential government programs or layoff non-essential government employees.
After dithering for over three months, Gov. Sisolak finally called for a special session of the Legislature to deal with the obvious budget ramifications of his shutdown orders.
However, the governor and the Democrat majority in the Legislature simply drained our state’s “rainy day” fund and implemented some other budget gimmicks to address the immediate shortfall without adopting more serious cuts for the long term.
In fact, a proposed 12 days-a-year “furlough” program for government workers – a pittance, especially compared to the permanent layoffs of private sector workers – was pared back to just 6 days-a-year. And don’t even take effect until January 1, 2021.
And while the governor has recently instructed his department heads to prepare budget cuts of 12 percent across the board – which doesn’t make sense since it doesn’t differentiate between essential and non-essential spending – such cuts wouldn’t take effect until next July.
In the meantime, the giant budget hole his shutdown orders have created continues to get wider and deeper by the day.
The longer the governor waits to make the same painful cuts to government as Nevada families and businesses have been making for over eight months now, the worse it’s going to be when it finally comes time to pay the piper.
Yet Gov. Sisolak refuses to act. So it’s time for the Legislature to step in.
Last week I sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson urging him to use the legal authority for the Legislature to call itself into a special session (requires a petition signed by 2/3 of the members) to deal with two major issues…
1.) Limiting the governor’s authoritarian “emergency” powers without the consent of the Legislature, and
2.) Taking immediate action to address the growing budget crisis we face.
You can read the full letter by clicking here.
It’s disappointing that the Speaker has chosen not to even respond to my request. But ignoring this problem won’t make it go away. Instead of waiting until next July to implement the governor’s 12% budget cuts, we should be doing so immediately.
Otherwise, they’re going to be looking at raising our taxes. Indeed, the teachers’ union is already pushing for a pair to tax hikes totaling more than $1.3 billion!
These extraordinary times demand extraordinary leadership. But we, the people, aren’t getting it. We will, however, be paying the price.
Yet another reminder that elections have consequences.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“Strong ‘no’ vote.” – Assemblyman Jim Wheeler joining me yesterday in publicly announcing his opposition to a pair of proposed tax hikes by the teachers’ union
Annie Black is the Nevada State Assemblywoman representing District 19. You can get more information by visiting www.electannieblack.com