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‘I want a check’

Jim Rogers wants your money — and he wants lots of it.

On Monday, the multi-millionaire chancellor of Nevada’s university system put on his beggar’s cap and urged the state to tackle its budget woes by seeking a $3 billion bailout from Washington.

Hey, everybody else — from various state governors to corporate chieftains — has his hand out, why shouldn’t Nevada get a share?

Not surprisingly, Mr. Rogers got a warm and cuddly reception from state Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who no doubt will get started immediately convincing his colleagues to warmly embrace this small token of appreciation from the nation’s taxpayers for the importance of UNLV’s dental school or the Nevada State College at Henderson.

Where all this federal bailout cash is supposed to come from is anybody’s guess. Apparently, the theory is that Beltway gnomes can simply rev up the Treasury printing presses, ginning up enough greenbacks for everything, with no risk of devaluing the currency on a Weimar Republic scale. Perhaps Mr. Rogers can query the econ departments at UNR and UNLV to make sure.

But Mr. Rogers wants more than just the paltry $3 billion — which at one point earlier this decade would have exceeded the state’s entire general fund. In order to “adequately” fund state operations, he favors a 25 percent tuition hike, higher taxes on the mining industry, auctioning off the state’s share of the tobacco settlement and imposing a business income tax, which would no doubt eventually morph into an individual income tax.

Nevada has serious budget issues. Mr. Rogers has been passionate about protecting his turf from spending adjustments. But arguing the problem can be solved by lining up in Washington to collect other people’s money or hammering the private sector with taxes and more taxes ignores history. Nevertheless, Mr. Rogers remains adamant.

“I want a check,” he said Monday. “Just send me a check.”

Mr. Rogers is certainly familiar with checks. He owns a broadcast empire and has donated plenty of his own fortune to Western universities. So we suggest that Mr. Rogers bankroll a ballot proposal to repeal the state’s constitutional ban on an income tax. He can call it the “Just Send Me A Check” initiative, subtitled — with apologies to the local teacher union official who uttered the immortal words — “Just Give Us The Money, We’ll Take It From There.”

Certainly, the voters wouldn’t dare ignore Mr. Rogers’ urgent pleas.

Would they?

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