Governor Gibbons’ State of the State address on January 22 deserves more commentary than the simple and predictable “Democratic Response” from Barbara Buckley. How about a non-partisan “Taxpayer’s Response” to the speech?
For those of us who see unbounded government reach and control in our lives, the address was simply a confirmation of our worst fears: the governor and legislators see themselves as omniscient, grand operators with the ability to improve most aspects of our lives through better programs, new committees, and more of our money. They are the chess masters and we citizens are merely pawns to be played to satisfy their designs for an imagined utopia in the Silver State.
There were some glimmers of conservative ideology, which I’ll mention later, but they were minimal in comparison to calls for greater government participation in your life.
Governor: “To protect ourselves from man-made or natural catastrophes in the future, we must set aside money to shield our citizens from harm.”
BWN Response: Thank you, most powerful protector of all Nevadans. Sorry, you cannot “protect” or “shield” us from unanticipated economic or terrorist events. Just let us keep more of our own money and we’ll save for a rainy day on our own without your “help.”
Governor: “Key among the Nevada workforce are dedicated public employees, including state employees, university employees and teachers. We must continue to invest in this important group of workers, and I am proposing a six percent increase in pay for these hardworking individuals.”
BWN Response: What about the vast majority of Nevada’s workforce, private citizens employed by private sector businesses? These are the people who pay the bills and who compete in the level playing field of a fee market. How about “investing” in them by reducing the size and cost of government? Are you saying that government employees are more important than the rest of us?
Governor: (Regarding methamphetamines) “…This is the colossal struggle of our times…. I have placed in this budget . . . $17 million … toward fighting the scourge of methamphetamines.”
BWN: The colossal struggle? Funny, I thought that alcohol, smoking, and heart disease were the scourge on health of Nevadans. I stand corrected. Seventeen million dollars of taxpayers’ money seems like a lot to provide a public pet project for your wife, Dawn. With the untold millions already being misspent in Nevada on the ridiculous “war on drugs,” there are plenty of resources in place – they can just add meth to their long list of dangerous substances used to demonize and criminalize victimless users.
Governor: “A top priority of my Administration will be to develop more affordable housing in Nevada . . . we must do something about it . . . [and] establish a program to support the housing needs of teachers, nurses . . . . Let’s start a similar program so we can help all Nevadans achieve the American dream of home ownership.”
BWN: So what you’re saying is that despite the record levels of homeownership in Nevada, the government needs to step in and help the people in the margins because they are too stupid or incompetent to do it on their own. Or that nobody should have to live in an apartment or rental home. Try this, Mr. Governor: start with reducing or eliminating the extremely burdensome regulations placed on builders and contractors, or lower property taxes, or eliminate the very costly real property transfer tax. Or ask the federal government to sell off more of the land they manage, which would keep the price of land from skyrocketing.
The governor goes on to posit how he can help improve the state of education, health care, transportation, mental health care, economic development, energy resources, job growth, and protecting us from sexual predators, all with the beneficent hand of government control and power. All of these things may sound good to some people, and certainly to legislators who love to solve problems with blanket programs and laws. But at what cost? And who’s going to pay for it?
In under 50 minutes with this speech, Governor Gibbons listed $522.6 million in ADDITIONAL spending, beyond what was already in the normal budget. That’s $10,452,000 per minute!
On the upside, Gibbons did include some common-sense and market-driven ideas that would be great for Nevada if actually implemented, including:
• Proposing to eliminate the per-branch excise tax on banks
• Lower the modified business tax (although way, way too little of a drop)
• Calling on the legislature to pass a bill to prohibit the government from taking private property without the consent of the owner
• Seeking a public-private effort in improving NDOT projects
• Not raising the gas tax (I’d like to see him push to lower it)
His best quote was the following, “I believe it is my job to foster a business climate that encourages investment in our state and to have government help when necessary and get out of the way where possible.” Unfortunately, he gave no examples. Rhetoric without action is what we are accustomed to – let’s see some real radical change, not more of the status quo.