Boards and commissions

Like many other states, including Nevada, Washington is struggling with serious revenue declines. Facing a $6 billion budget deficit, Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Democrat, said last week it was time for “belt tightening” and vowed to go after some budgetary “sacred cows.”

High on the list: The 470 state boards and commissions that compete for state funding.

“Is there anybody here who believes we need half of those?” the Washington governor said last week at an economic summit in Seattle.

Whether or not Gov. Gregoire succeeds in killing some of those panels — most government creations have superhuman powers of survival — it’s an approach that Nevada lawmakers should also consider.

While we hear constant cries from Carson City that state government will barely be able to function unless we jack taxes through the roof, Nevada, like Washington, has scores and scores of state commissions and boards.

To name a few, there’s the Bicycle Advisory Board; the Cosmetology Board; the Dairy Commission; the Commission for Cultural Affairs; the Healthy Nevada Task Force; the State Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners; the Independent Living Advisory Council; the Junior Livestock Show Board; the Commission of Minority Affairs; the Prostate Cancer Task Force; the Nevada Literary Coalition; and something called the Early Interagency Coordinating Council.

As Gov. Gregoire said, does anybody believe we really need all of these? A good number of them are simply protectionist rackets or thinly disguised fronts for special interests.

Sure, many of these panels don’t spend a lot of money, and scrapping them all wouldn’t realize a huge budgetary savings.

But it would be a start toward fiscal sanity.

Besides, members of these boards are perfectly free to continue meeting at their leisure if the state decides to remove its sanction and funding.

At the very least, lawmakers ought to consider consolidating some of these commissions and making others justify their existence.

After all, is it really that frightening to imagine the state of Nevada without a Beef Council?

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