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April 24, 2014

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Biggest spending cuts, tax increases in Nevada history won’t close budget gap, Assembly speaker says

John Oceguera

John Oceguera

Arthur A. "Andy" Hafen

Arthur A. "Andy" Hafen

Debra March

Debra March

Nevada Assembly Speaker John Oceguera painted a gloomy picture of Nevada’s present and future before the Henderson City Council on Tuesday night.

In a presentation the same as those Oceguera gave before the Las Vegas and North Las Vegas city councils last month, the speaker pointed out that the state has already made deep cuts in education, health services and public safety. Those cuts, he said, are only going to get deeper during the next legislative session.

“I think you’ll be shocked if you’re not already aware of some of the things we’ve already done,” Oceguera said.

Oceguera noted that the deficit is 54 percent of Nevada’s budget — the largest percentage of any state in the nation. The deficit is estimated at $2.7 billion, Oceguera said.

The 10 percent cuts Gov. Brian Sandoval has suggested won’t come close to closing the budget hole, Oceguera said. Those cuts would make up only $819 million of the shortfall, he said.

The state could make the largest cuts in history and the largest tax increase in Nevada history and still not close the gap, Oceguera said.

“I think we do have to cut and we have to have government spending reform,” Oceguera said. “We just can’t do it without it.”

“You do this much better than we do,” he said of city governments’ ability to plan for the future. “We have to have a long-term plan. We have to have an economic development strategy.”

The state has already made significant cuts to health programs, including the Mammovan, which provides mammograms for women to detect breast cancer. The state has also made major cuts to senior care and higher education, he said.

As in his other meetings with city councils in the valley, Oceguera pointed out that although some constituents suggest cutting parks or museums, those state functions make up a small percentage of the state budget.

“That wouldn’t put a dent in the hole that we have,” he said. “We’ve already reduced the hours of our parks. We’ve already reduced the hours of our museums.”

Oceguera also noted that Nevada has the highest home foreclosure rate and highest unemployment rate in the county. But, he said, it has one of the friendliest business environments of any state.

That ranking, however, wont be enough to entice new businesses to the state.

“They rank us on what our schools are, what the poverty rate is,” he said. “In those quality of life factors, we rank pretty low.”

Councilwoman Debra March urged Oceguera to consider all other options before the state would begin raiding city and local coffers.

After Oceguera’s presentation, Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen said he was still keeping his chin up about Nevada’s future.

“I’m going to be very optimistic here,” he said. “I really think that if we all work together, we are a very resilient state and a very resilient community.”

Councilman Steve Kirk asked if raising taxes would be likely during the next legislative session.

“I’m projecting that $2.7 billion is a tough amount to come up with,” Oceguera said. “I don’t know in good conscience that I can cut some of the things I outlined, and that doesn’t even get us there.”

“Am I advocating a tax increase? No. I’m advocating all the things we need to do first,” he said.

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  1. The liberals will be crying like mashed cats at all the budget cutting that will be necessary. They want higher taxes instead. That would just be more of the wrong thing to do. We ALL will be paying the price for the spending addiction of the liberals who were in control of Congress for the past 4 years.

  2. Richard. We should ALL be crying like mashed cats at all the budget cutting that will be necessary. If we close every school in the Nevada right now, we could balance the budget -- for now. But then the second-order effects, like lost sales tax revenues from all the money that never got spent on taxable goods and services because jobs were lost, and income was spent on some sort of child care instead would drive revenues back down out of balance. Don't want to cut out all education in the State, then close the prisons and raid the highway funds and eliminate every social welfare program and get rid of all the state employees and you might be able to get the Nevada budget back into balance. Or we could just close up everything including education for one year. Those are our choices. If you don't believe me, LOOK AT THE BUDGET NUMBERS YOURSELF. If you do, you will see that 4 years of "NO NEW TAXES" have left us in a position from which there is no easy exit.

  3. For those so well informed people that don't think there have been substantial cuts I suggest you check your facts. Also take a look at the additional proposed cuts that are in the works.

    www.budget.state.nv.us/FY2012_2013Agency....

    Be sure to go line by line. Perhaps then you will realize just how much the citizens of Nevada are going to lose in services across the board.

    I've said it before and will say it again there is a revenue (income) problem and the only solution is to generate more cash flow by increasing taxes!!

    The new Governor needs a strong dose of reality and the reality is Nevada cannot cut it's way out of this deficit created by lost tax revenue!

  4. birdie is all complain and no solution. Check every post. No solutions, thus no credibility. The electorate needs a strong dose of reality.

  5. John Oceguera who finally obtained his law degree by "independent study" courses. He's the elected fox guarding the union henhouse. How about we prohibit social services benefits to those who are not legal citizens? That has been estimated to possibly save us $700,000,000 which is a third of the deficit.

  6. John, if you are reading this...congratulations on your clarity.

    No...the future is not bright and looking like an approaching, second Renaissance Period in Mankind's history.

    There is an opportunity here to be a genuine hero of the people, but NOT ONE politician has the vision to see it.

    But maybe you can.

    Ask Coolican or Dickensheets for advice.

    These two are working BOTH sides of the tracks with your brand of coherence.

    Then recruit the brightest of the next generation to form an outside (out of the loop), super-team of "functional" consultants.

    The first name that comes to mind from the youth forum is Ashley Martinez, after reading her post.

    Then see me about the revitalization plan that will kick-start Las Vegas and Nevada.

    ...in that order, John.

    ...or continue down this dark road, surrounded by "yes men" and delusional advisers.

    ...your choice, John.

    Get up early in the morning and "fly with the eagles" or "hang back with the current flock of pterodactyls."