(Donald Robak) – Ladies and gentlemen of the legislature, I’m writing this because I did not speak at the (Reno) town hall meeting (on the budget crisis).
You held this town hall meeting supposedly looking for solutions to the problem. Speaker after speaker after speaker repeated the same general idea. My fellow citizens were crying and wailing to ‘not cut me, cut my neighbor over there’. ‘My program is too important, his is non-essential’.
I must admit that I do not envy your position in the slightest. I cannot imagine myself listening to this many whiners and pretend that I care. I would be bored silly, as I suspect many of you were.
I would want to tell them to get a life. We’re not your mother, or father. We cannot do everything for everybody. Whimpering and simpering is not what made this country great. So, man up! Take some responsibility and together we can solve this problem.
Many of those that spoke at the meeting thanked you profusely for your willingness to tackle this problem. I will not be quite so generous. I think this session clearly illustrates the cliché: who would choose the arsonist to put out the fire. In this metaphor I believe that you folks are the arsonists that put us in this situation.
Now, I realize that what I am about to say deals to a large extent in the past. The answer has been known for probably 3,000 years. You can find it in Genesis. It’s in the story of Joseph, the part about the seven fat years and the seven lean years.
We just passed through seven fat years. And how did you treat them? You spent as if there was no tomorrow. You wasted and squandered. You treated our money as a personal slush fund. Not a cent came your way where you didn’t invent a new program or enlarge an old program. You betrayed the public trust. You were elected to represent the citizens, but you chose to represent the government, or even more insidious, your party.
And now that we find ourselves in the middle of the seven lean years, you’ve decided that you are the ones to fix it. And it appears that your solution to you being irresponsible may be to place a larger burden on those of us that were responsible. The proper solution has not changed since Joseph helped the Pharaoh.
Senator Raggio complained that Nevada ranked lowest in taxing its citizens. This is such a phony argument and it is NOT true. Is the measure of government how much it can squeeze out of the populace? I would suggest that the level of taxation is also a measure of oppression. Someone mentioned California as an example. Can you think of a state more burdensome than California?
California is a perfect laboratory case of what not to do. If there were a Nobel prize for stupidity, the California legislature would be a leading contender. It would seem that Sen. Raggio might see California’s model as something to emulate.
Many of my fellow citizens here are members of NSEA, a teachers labor union. They are advocating to not cut money for education. But, is their cause really education, or is it the union?
Since we choose to argue our position based on some national ranking let me cite an example. Washington DC spends among the most on a per pupil basis, yet has the worst scholastic achievement in the nation. In which of these categories would you like Nevada to be ranked number one?
At the town hall I heard basically three causes addressed. These included mental health in one form or another, the arts and education. Everyone that spoke pleaded for their pet issue to be spared any of the cuts. One person even insisted that we cut non-essential services, such as parks and prisons to save money for her cause.
After perhaps ten speakers, all crying and whining that their program just can’t be cut, Sen. Raggio attempted to inject a tiny bit of reality. He thoroughly explained the situation, but then descended into the blame game.
He first blamed the state constitution, which prevented him from doing what he needed. He blamed Gov. Gibbons who was elected on a promise that he would not raise taxes. The governor’s major sin was that, unlike most politicians, he actually honored his promise. Do you recall that Sen. Raggio also campaigned on low taxes? Sen. Raggio also attacked his constituents who were upset with him reneging on his promises.
I for one thank God every day that Gov. Gibbons has the courage and the will to actually act responsibly.
No one addressed the issue of solving our fiscal problem with any degree of seriousness. One person proposed a solution that we just tax those nasty foreign corporations such as Wal-Mart, or the mining companies that incidentally employ Nevada residents. Perhaps four or five people suggested that they would not mind paying more taxes. One lady offered that if there were only a coffee can she would begin right now by donating $20.00. She was reminded that the table would hold a $20.00 bill without any difficulty.
She, however, still did not contribute.
Now, let’s examine this concept in a little more in depth. Let’s further assume that every man woman and child in the state of Nevada would contribute a comparable $20.00. That would mean a family of four would contribute $80.00, a retired couple would contribute $40.00, and so on. That would also mean every child, every prison inmate, every mentally ill person and every illegal alien would contribute their $20.00. And what are the chances of that happening?
The population of Nevada currently is approximately 2.6 million persons. If every resident of the state of Nevada work to contribute $20.00 the grand total would amount to $52,000,000. I suspect that the likelihood of this happening is very slim indeed. I further suspect that we good-hearted souls would find cause to exempt at least 1/3 for some good and noble reason. If this were to happen our magnanimous offer would be reduced to less than $40,000,000, or less than 5% of our budgetary shortfall.
In truth, the real budget shortfall is approximately $339 for every resident of the state of Nevada. So, how does this change our eagerness to be taxed up a little bit more? I suspect that the offer to put that the $20.00 into the coffee can that wasn’t there was about as empty as the coffee can itself.
I could go on, but I will spare you.
So I exhort you to do the right thing. Do that thing you were not willing to do during the seven fat years when it would have been easy. Yes, I realize that it will not be pleasant. But the alternative will be downright painful, and perhaps, worse. The right thing does not mean to further put the squeeze on your citizens.