Don't spend, spend, spend

Singing a familiar tune, Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley on Tuesday urged Nevada lawmakers to fix the state's revenue structure and set long-term financial goals.

"We can do better," said the Las Vegas Democrat. "We need to adopt methods of eliminating our boom-and-bust cycle, and to find long-term, bipartisan solutions to the problems facing the state."

Well, if Ms. Buckley can come up with a tax structure that eliminates "our boom-and-bust cycle," she might want to patent it. There is no state in the union -- regardless of what combination of taxes it imposes -- that is immune to the ups and downs of normal economic activity.

Ms. Buckley detailed a few proposals, including a new approach to the state "rainy day" fund that would include a mandatory state savings account to accumulate cash for use during downturns. She also proposed reviewing various tax exemptions now in place and more aggressively enforcing tax collection laws.

These are reasonable ideas and deserve further exploration.

But there is a relatively simple way for Ms. Buckley and her Carson City colleagues to ensure that Nevada is best equipped to deal with the inevitable economic fluctuations: Exercise spending restraint during the boom times.

Lawmakers in Nevada and other states spend like drunken sailors during the go-go years -- creating new programs, increasing already generous pay and benefit packages -- which pads baseline budgets that eventually become unsustainable during the bust cycles. Then they wring their hands and wonder how they got into such a predicament before concluding that the only solution is to raise taxes to sustain "existing services."

Repeat, ad nauseam.

It's a pattern with which Ms. Buckley, who has held office for 14 years, should be all too familiar.


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