I am not generally a fan of horror stories, but I felt like one as I reread Gov. Jim Gibbons Thursday State of the State speech, in which he made Jack the Ripper look like a neurosurgeon in announcing hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts in an effort to present a balanced budget to the Legislature without raising taxes.
(We’ll give him the fudge factor of including the 3 point hotel room tax and don’t blame him for including it.)
Although he’s already receiving laurels in conservative circles for his brave blade work, and it’s generally accepted that raising taxes in a recession courts calamity, as ever he failed to acknowledge the obvious: our state’s uneven system of taxation.
What struck me in the speech were the many references to the difficulty of his task, how much he appeared to be burdened by the cuts. He also said that essential services for Nevada’s children were being maintained. He neglected to mention those services are woefully inadequate and are overwhelmed by growing need.
Those of us who have worked that beat know how hard the system’s insiders toil, many with back-breaking caseloads, and how hard they fight to help the lives of children who have great need and come from miserable home lives, or no home at all.
This is a tough year, and the governor has a difficult duty. In rereading his speech, I tried to get a sense of where Gibbons’ heart was at amid all this uncertainty. I’m still trying.
In “A Tramp Abroad,” Saint Mark wrote, “That's the difference between governments and individuals. Governments don't care, individuals do.”
In some cases, those individuals work inside their uncaring government machines.
He also observed, in “The Guilded Age,” that “no country can be well governed unless its citizens as a body keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more.”
In times like these, it’s more important than ever for citizens to remember that.