Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid said Thursday he could balance Nevada’s next budget without raising taxes by cutting the number of state agencies and administrative staff, while still pouring state funds into higher education to attract new industries.
In his budget blueprint, titled “Moving Nevada Forward,” the son of unpopular Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (see above) said cutting the number of state agencies from 26 to 16 would save about $48 million.
Some of his proposals were taken from a report by the Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission, empaneled by Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons in 2008.
The Clark County Commission chairman trails in the polls by double digits to Republican Brian Sandoval, a former Nevada attorney general and federal judge.
Rory Reid said Thursday that he would extend monthly furloughs for state employees and suspend merit and longevity salary increases. He also said he would allow about $1 billion in temporary taxes and fees approved by the 2009 Legislature to expire in June 2011.
The Democrat said he would also adopt a four-day state work week, something lawmakers approved during a special session in February. Gov. Gibbons, objecting to other provisions in the bill, vetoed it.
Other proposals in Rory Reid’s plan include privatizing inmate medical and mental health care.
“Rory Reid should be applauded for presenting a no-new-taxes budget and being willing to go on record with his proposals,” responded Geoffrey Lawrence, a fiscal policy analyst with the Nevada Policy Research Institute, though he criticized the plan for being short on details and relying on “untenable assumptions,” foremost of which he said was “Reid’s assumption of significantly higher revenue collections.”
Commissioner Reid’s budget plan assumes that Nevada will collect $615 million more in taxes in fiscal year 2013 than the Legislative Counsel Bureau currently projects.
The younger Reid deserves credit for proposing a no-tax-hike budget. The question is whether — as a Democratic governor presumably riding herd on a tax-hungry Democratic state Legislature — a “Governor Reid” could make good on such plans.
His time on the Clark County Commission has shown the younger Reid is indeed willing to break with some of his party’s most destructive high-tax, big-spending, pro-government-union advocacy. At the very least, he deserves credit for bringing forth some specifics, and thus advancing a real — and much needed — debate on Nevada’s economic future.