Fiscal Reality 2011: Part 3
A New Approach to Budgeting in Carson City
This space has been devoted for the past two weeks to discussing Nevada’s financial obligations, including a state budget shortfall that’s roughly 50 percent. Beyond that, there’s debt to the federal government for borrowed unemployment benefits – it will push past a billion dollars by the end of next year, and that doesn’t begin to address the interest on the loans. Then, there are hundreds of millions in mandated spending for increased Medicaid caseload, and expenses related to the federal health care reform.
Most of the attention statewide has been on the state budget. As the 2011 legislative session approaches, the face of state government is about to change – drastically and permanently, according to Lynn Hettrick, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Gibbons. Nevada can’t tax its way out of a $3 billion budget hole, Hettrick says — you can’t raise taxes enough to close it. You also can’t cut enough spending to eliminate it.
Several weeks ago, the Reasonable Reporter dragged a TV camera and a photographer to Carson City, and spent a whole morning talking about the situation with Hettrick and the governor’s other deputy chief of staff, Stacy Woodbury; with Mike Willden, Director of Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services; and with Budget Director Andrew Clinger.
A complex series of technical and other problems derailed the TV pieces from being produced. But some of the audio has been posted here. Click on the two flash players below and you will hear:
1- A sound bite from Deputy Chief of Staff Lynn Hettrick, offering a grim summary of the reason he says Nevada’s approach to government must change. Read more remarks from Hettrick in last week”s story. The audio file is less than one minute long. (Click on the player below, or if your device does not support Adobe Flash, you can download the file here.)
2- A piece of Andrew Clinger’s interview, in which he describes a new budgeting process being undertaken in Carson City for the upcoming biennium.
This is five minutes long. You will note the voice of the Reasonable Reporter has been boosted so you can hear the questions — creating an otherworldly effect. The piece begins as Andrew Clinger responds to an inquiry about the recently reported increase in sales taxes (this should have said “an increase in sales tax revenue“). Yes, it’s good news, he says, but we shouldn’t overstate its impact. (Click on the player below, or if your device does not support Adobe Flash, you can download the file here.)
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