In the Nevada Assembly, 45 percent of the members are government workers. When Sparks Assemblyman Bernie Anderson votes for “more money for education” he votes to increase his own salary and benefits; he is a retired Washoe County School District teacher.
In the general populace, about 4 percent of Nevadans work for state or local governments.
Yet 45 percent of the Assembly are government beneficiaries, either working or retired from government jobs.
Go down the list of leadership positions and it is even more grossly disproportionate:
Speaker of the Assembly: Barbara Buckley, director of Clark County Legal Services
Chairman of the Judiciary Committee: Bernie Anderson, Washoe County School District
Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee: Morse Arberry, city of Las Vegas
Chairman of Taxation: Kathy McClain, Clark County
You get the drift. As a tax watchdog group noted, “Such concentration of state power among public employees is a major reason why Nevada taxes and fees have gone up virtually every biennium over the last 22 years (written in 2003; the pattern extends now for 29 years). Not only are public employees themselves tax consumers, with a distinct conflict of interest, but the political activists among them tend toward a sectarian ideology that always calls for ever greater government spending ...”
Confirming this point, Senate Majority Leader Steve Horsford, whose wife is a UNLV professor, stated he is “frustrated” at the end of the special session, and made a speech demanding Nevada businesses “pay their fair share.”
Tax increases, that Horsford will directly financially benefit from, are high on this liberal Las Vegas Democrat’s agenda. And he controls the leadership of the Nevada Senate.
There have been attempts over the years to rein in government spending.
Example: The 1979 Legislature set a cap on spending, and said it could not exceed a base amount (the 1975- 1977 spending level), adjusted for inflation and population growth. Yet, the government-employee dominated 2007 Legislature voted to “exclude” certain budget items from the cap, thus mandating an ever-growing state government, fueled with tax increases to pay for it all.
Government employee-dominated Nevada Legislatures, like the federal government, have made promises practically mandating massive tax hikes. For government workers the allowable age of retirement has been going down while tax-financed benefit packages have been going up. Yet no significant funding set-aside has been created to pay for it all.
These unfunded liabilities are huge and loom on the horizon. As more and more retire and less and less tax revenue comes in thanks to a shrinking economy, how do we make up the difference?
The private sector, the business community, the mom and pop companies, the ordinary every day workers who are being hammered financially by all the taxes have almost no representation in the Nevada Legislature. If we want meaningful, balanced reform, to break the cycle of always more taxes and endless growth in government, that must change.