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Program Shift Does Not a Tax Hike Make

OK, because I have both kids and a DVR, I’m just now getting to Monday’s edition of “Nevada Newsmakers.” And during the “pundit panel” discussion, host Sam Shad asks about a Las Vegas Sun story about Gov. Sandoval’s proposal to shift some state services and programs down to the local level where he believes they should be.

“Does this hold up to his no new taxes pledge?” Sam asked of City of Fernley lobbyist and FOC (Friend of Chuck) Marsha Berkbigler.

“No, of course it doesn’t,” Ms. Berkbigler responded.

Not. It’s absolutely completely consistent with the governor’s pledge to balance the state budget without raising taxes or fees.

According to Ms. Birkbigler’s logic, if Gov. Sandoval shifts a program or service down to the local level, then the local level will have to raise taxes and, therefore, it’s a tax hike, basically, by proxy. And that, Ms. Birkbigler believes, is a violation of the governor’s promise not to raise taxes.

Not. Here’s the fallacy of the argument.

Ms. Birkbigler is taking the position that the only way to pay for a government service or program that is shifted to the local level is for the local jurisdiction to raise taxes. Au contraire, mon frère.

The local jurisdictions will have the same option the governor is now exercising: reducing or eliminating unnecessary and non-essential programs or implementing other spending reductions instead of raising taxes.

For example, Clark County could tell the SEIU to shove it and reduce its local public employee salaries back to the 2007 level before they all got 13 percent pay hikes in the middle of the worst recession in state history. That alone would wipe out the county’s anticipated $30 million overspending deficit without raising taxes by one, thin dime.

In this recession, the private sector has had to bite the bullet. Small businesses have had to bite the bullet. Families have had to bite the bullet. Gov. Sandoval is finally forcing state government to bite the bullet. And now it’s time for local governments to bite the bullet as well. It’s time for government, at all levels, to start doing less with less….just as the founders intended.

On the same panel, Chris Wicker, spokesman for Washoe County Democrats, said “Blah, blah, blah, no new taxes is stupid, blah, blah, blah, tax the rich, feed the poor, blah, blah, blah.” I’d be happy to dissect his inane, liberal argument, but why waste the time?