EDITORIAL: State repays federal loan to cover unemployment benefits

Gov. Brian Sandoval catches plenty of heat in certain quarters for his moderate brand of Republicanism. But even his right-wing critics should applaud his administration’s recent fiscal accomplishment.

The governor announced this week that the state has made good on hundreds of millions of dollars it borrowed from Washington in order to cover unemployment claims during the Great Recession. Seven years removed from taking a $773 million loan from the federal government, Nevada is now even.

“This is truly a landmark day,” Gov. Sandoval said Tuesday, “because not only have we paid it off, but we have over a billion dollars in the unemployment trust fund. So this is almost a $2 billion turnaround in a matter of seven years.”

Back in 2010, Nevada was ground zero for the housing crisis. Unemployment hit 14 percent and the state lost 175,000 jobs. Gov. Sandoval won his first term late in the year and faced some tough financial choices.

The federal money helped the state to weather the shock while attempting to recover. And recover it has. While some residual effects of the downturn remain, unemployment now stands at 5 percent and Nevada has added more than 245,000 jobs since bottoming out.

The repaid debt is also good news for the state’s 70,000 employers, which stock the unemployment pool through a payroll tax. Now that the state has met its obligations and the fund shows a healthy balance, the tax rate will drop almost 25 percent from 2.58 percent to 1.95 percent.

A tip of the cap to the governor for a job well done.

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