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February 20, 2011 / jimnv

Blame the State Employee Game

State politicians focus on state employees and scapegoat them to divert attention from the major problem facing the state, which is the need for a broad-based taxing scheme that funds programs all Nevadans need and want. Because they can’t figure out how to do this, they can only say, “No New Taxes” , steal from local governments, and take from state employee salaries to balance the budget. Of course, they must have someone to blame… they surely won’t blame themselves for their willful ignorance will they?

State employees did not cause the Recession or the state’s budget deficit. This mess was first started by Nevada’s inability to create a fair and stable tax structure. The final blow was precipitated by greedy bankers, hedge fund managers and investment firms involved with shady lending and investment practices. The recession has also affected state employees who struggle like anyone else to make ends meet and they have not been immune as so many suggest. Frozen salaries for several years, pay reductions through furloughs, increased retirement contributions and fewer and more expensive health benefits have taken their toll.

State employees make less than their county counterparts and public employees, as a group, make less than the private sector when factoring in education and skills. The average state employee salary in 2007 was about $44,000 a year, hardly a princely sum.  Of course, our detractors will always see it differently because ignoring the truth is easy and to look for it, requires honesty.

The “No new taxes” mantra drives many politicians and they think it is a solution. But if low taxes were the solution, Nevada would have unemployment below the national level. We are near the bottom nationally for taxes and yet this does not attract companies with good paying jobs.  No, a company wanting to relocate or start up in Nevada not only looks at taxes but also the educational system, cost of living and the quality of life.

All of those things will suffer if Sandoval gets his way and if he does, we will once again be left with casinos as the primary corporate influence. This is very bad because they do not need an educated work force so a good educational system is unnecessary and the only thing that matters to them is the low tax rate they currently pay so a fair taxing scheme would mean they might pay more.

Blaming state employees and demonizing them is easy, expedient and unfortunately works every time. It diverts attention from a poor tax structure that is unfair to everyone except the biggest corporations in the state.

Is this our state or theirs? Do our legislators work for us or them? We all know the answers to those questions. To me, it just means we need to work harder to change how Nevada operates and is governed. Let’s demand honesty from Sandoval and every legislator. That would be a good start.

 

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