Stimulus games

In March 2009, then-Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons agreed to accept some federal “stimulus” funds to help finance extended unemployment benefits for jobless Nevadans — but only after being assured that the expanded coverage base could be retracted in the future, before funding for such coverage became a permanent state obligation.

The governor’s critics still ridiculed him for a statement earlier that month in which he blasted as “foolish” the “cavalier attitude that Nevada should bow down to the federal government and give up its own state sovereignty in a mad grab to claim every last penny of stimulus dollars.”

Instead, egged on by Washington’s financiers, Nevada lawmakers accepted $185 million in federal funds during the most recent biennium — and they funneled it right into the general fund, padding baseline budgets.

Never mind that they were warned: If one-time federal money was included in the general fund, this would allow the big spenders in Carson City to wail and moan, come the winter of 2011, that the failure of the “stimulus” funds to reappear would result in “a Draconian 25 percent cut in state spending,” likely to cause infants, the elderly and the infirm to starve in the streets.

It’s sort of like having a rich relative leave you a one-time inheritance, doubling your disposable income for one year. But after you’ve spent it all, you propose to march into your employer’s office and demand a big raise to keep you living at the level you were accustomed to last year.

Good luck with that.

Nevertheless, last week, Democrats claimed new Gov. Brian Sandoval was low-balling the budget shortfall because he failed to include the loss of the one-time federal handout.

So it was foretold, and so it now comes to pass.

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