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Bad Budget Math

The Associated Press reported on Monday that legislators are debating “how to plug a possible $2.5 billion shortfall in the state’s $5.8 billion spending plan.” But this simply is NOT TRUE. For the life of me I don’t understand how the press keeps getting this wrong.

Nevada’s government is currently operating on a GENERAL FUND budget of about $6.4 billion. Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed a GENERAL FUND budget for the next biennium of $5.8 billion. That means there is a $600 million overspending deficit between what we’re currently spending in the GENERAL FUND and what the governor proposes to spend in the GENERAL FUND.

To get to an alleged “$2.5 billion shortfall” you have to do one of two things.

One, instead of talking about the GENERAL FUND budget, you instead talk about the ENTIRE budget, including transportation, etc. The “super fund” budget is actually around $17 billion, not $5.8 billion. If this is what the AP is talking about, then they are comparing $2.5 billion apples to $5.8 billion oranges.

The only other way to get to a “$2.5 billion shortfall” is to take the roughly $6.8 billion general fund budget originally approved by the 2009 Legislature, before it was reduced in subsequent special sessions, then add some $1.5 billion in desired new general fund spending, and then subtract the governor’s proposed general fund budget from that “wish book” budget.

You simply cannot ask for a $1.5 billion raise, be told no, and then claim you’ve been cut by $1.5 billion when you’re actually right where you started from unless you’re using public school math.

If the left and the media wants to claim there’s a $2.5 billion budget hole, then the least they should do is explain to the taxpayers and citizens of Nevada how they came to that figure, because to claim there’s a $2.5 billion shortfall in the GENERAL FUND budget is simply false.