Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2014

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Why it’s time to remove Gibbons from office

“I find it troubling that some want to raise taxes, which would just increase the burden on businesses that are already struggling to meet payroll, and based on these new unemployment numbers, are sometimes failing to do so.”

— Gov. Jim Gibbons on news of 7.1 percent jobless rate

It is somewhat disturbing, albeit not entirely unexpected, that the governor’s reaction to the unemployment numbers contains an implicit lie — no one is calling for new taxes. But what the rote statement reveals much more offensively in its tiresome, predictable, vacuous construction is that Jim Gibbons is the wrong man at the wrong time to steer the state’s financial ship.

And the real question is when the people of the state, especially those in the moneyed class who claim to care beyond their own bottom lines, will declare: Enough is enough.

A thoughtful, farsighted governor might have reacted thusly: “These latest figures highlight the economic problems facing our state and our already buckling infrastructure. I look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure the state does not fall backward during these hard times.”

Such words will never sally forth from the self-programmed voice box of the governor. Indeed, the flat budget he threatens to propose for the next budget cycle is as one-dimensional as his vision — a “philosophy” encased on a hackneyed sound bite.

No new taxes. The state is swimming in red ink, the school system is on thin ice and the roads are patently inadequate.

So what shall we do about this, Governor? Um, no new taxes. Genius.

I grant you that the Democrats have joined the call only out of political expediency and that some of their proposed restructuring of the tax system could well mean increases. But there are GOP legislators who, if the right concessions were made, surely would support less of one tax and more of another, or even the creation of a reliable revenue stream from the free-lunch crowd that holds sway over the chamber set.

But whether or not taxes are part or most of the solution becomes moot if you can’t have the discussion with a governor who is an automaton whose programming is obsolete. Enough is enough, folks. Whatever you think the solution might be, it is not as simplistic as Gibbons makes it out to be. A child could use a calculator to make the across-the-board cuts the governor has suggested — no priorities, no deliberation, just divide and decimate.

For much of this crisis, Chancellor Jim Rogers has been the only prominent government official out there talking about just how devastating the Gibbons cuts have been and will be on the higher education system. But others have recently weighed in with letters of support for Rogers. Some excerpts:

MGM Mirage’s Terry Lanni: “We must ... broaden the tax base in order to meet our citizens’ educational and other needs.”

Wynn Resorts’ Steve Wynn: “Nevada’s tax structure is fundamentally broken ... This is a recipe for disaster in trying to plan for our future needs.”

Fontainebleau’s Glenn Schaeffer: “The state must find alternatives to these mindless across-the-board cuts, promulgated under the ridiculous slogan that we have a ‘spending problem, not a revenue problem.’ ”

Ex-Gov. Bob Miller: “(Higher education) cannot suffer 16 percent cuts without serous and long-term negative consequences.”

Ex-Gov. Kenny Guinn: “We certainly aren’t going to cut our way to prosperity. If my two terms as governor proved anything, it’s that the voters will support you if they think you are being careful and efficient with their dollars.”

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman: “We may as well forget about attracting the best and the brightest. If they conclude that in Las Vegas, education is expendable, their next conclusion, when it comes to establishing their businesses, will be that Las Vegas is expendable.”

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell: “What makes a great community? ... People are willing to support so many political decisions we make if we, as leaders, are always trying to answer that question.”

Each of these leaders has put more thought into the problem than the man constitutionally charged with dealing with the financial crisis. What does this tell you? Enough is enough.

There are only two choices. You can render the governor irrelevant by getting two-thirds in both houses to do what’s necessary — a dicey proposition that leaves much to chance. Or you simply remove Gibbons from the equation with a recall that is bound to be successful if enough money is invested, considering few donors will come to his rescue.

Jim Rogers. Terry Lanni. Steve Wynn. Glenn Schaeffer. Kenny Guinn. Bob Miller. Oscar Goodman. Bob Cashell.

This could be the beginning of a beautiful recall committee.

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