Money grabs

Voters in 10 of Nevada’s 17 counties — including Clark County’s electorate — will get a chance to weigh in this fall on a watered down version of home rule.

The Clark County Commission on Tuesday approved the placement of an advisory question on November’s ballot that asks whether the Legislature should have to obtain the blessing of local government agencies before swiping their revenues to balance the state’s general fund.

The Legislature did just that last year in passing a two-year budget and, to a lesser extent, in a special session this year. The governments of Clark and Washoe counties howled in agony at the money grab, and very much want to prevent a recurrence in 2011.

Local government dollars were especially inviting because counties and municipalities have recklessly allowed their personnel costs to skyrocket over the years. The state’s raid on local treasuries has accellerated the process of obtaining badly needed compensation concessions from public employee unions.

November’s ballot question isn’t binding on lawmakers. They’ve been reluctant to relinquish any of their power to local governments. Home rule certainly has its advantages.

But if the counties want to be totally honest with voters, they’ll include language that explains the main reason for the question: government reluctance to cut expenditures, and elected officials’ overwhelming desire for higher taxes.

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