Sunday, June 1, 2008 | 2:09 a.m.
In good economic times, Nevada state government takes in enough tax money to provide a minimum of public services. And when the economy is good, neither legislators nor the governor is apt to suggest raising taxes.
In bad economic times, the state government does not take in enough money to continue with even minimum funding of public services. And when the economy is bad, neither legislators nor the governor is apt to suggest raising taxes.
As a result, only twice in the past 17 years have state taxes been raised. And plunging economies, such as the current one, always bring crises to Carson City.
For the government to have a stable flow of income, it should concede that incremental tax increases are necessary. It should also revise its tax policy, which now leans too heavily on gaming and sales taxes.
Those revenue sources rise and fall with our tourist-based economy, which is now reeling because of the housing bust and ever-rising gas prices.
Consequently, state government is reeling, with officials slashing budgets that are strained. And the governor and legislators are talking about making even more cuts, to education and other vital services, because the economic outlook is not promising.
Unfortunately, the governor and the Legislature are not discussing a revision of the state’s tax policy. Even though Nevadans have shown they would rather pitch in a little more toward the state’s costs than see an implosion of critical services, elected officials fear a backlash from the voters.
Among the strategies being discussed instead is siphoning money from Clark County, which emphasizes stable revenue sources, raises taxes when appropriate, spends only money that it has in hand and takes a long-term economic view when crafting its budgets — none of which is done by the state.
Even with its stable revenue, Clark County is challenged in managing growth. The state needs to muster the political will to fix its own house before meddling with anyone else’s.