Called the Nevada Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) Commission, Gibbons asked them to submit their recommendations every 90 days on how to enhance government productivity cut costs and create substantial tax revenue savings.
Gibbons, holding true to his “no new taxes” pledge, sought ways to make the government streamlined and increase available revenues without increasing everyone’s taxes.
The commission was entirely unpaid and voluntary. Its methodology was to go directly to the people on the ground – the government employees – and get their ideas for how to improve the agencies they worked for. What they hoped to get, and did successfully receive, were patterns of suggestions and ideas within agencies.
From these ideas, and combined with analysis from experts on their own personal staffs and from federal government agencies, including the Government Accounting Office (GAO) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), SAGE released its final report in January with 44 specific recommendations. Interestingly, all 14 members of both parties unanimously approved these 44 changes. There was no backsliding “minority” report. All agreed this was the direction the state needed to go.
This SAGE report, completely bi-partisan, would streamline government, allowing it to perform the same essential services at greatly reduced costs – funds that could then be used to enhance the gloomy General Fund.
Out of 44 recommendations, 24 had specific dollar amounts with estimated potential savings broken down on a one-year and five-year scale.
A potential savings of about $325 million for the first year and about $2 billion dollars over five years is postulated. Keep in mind 20 out of 44 did not specify a dollar savings. The upside potential is huge.
Gov. Gibbons’ single term in office has been unfortunately too often overshadowed by alleged personal misconduct and a grossly sensationalized divorce. There is no question it has weakened him politically.
Yet, Gibbons gets no credit for major accomplishments. As the SAGE report demonstrates, Gibbons has shown strong bi-partisan leadership, creating real answers to Nevada’s problems. Rather than mere sloganeering, Gibbons has the vision to seek the advice of both parties and show that when it comes to finding answers, both can come to a consensus.
The SAGE Commission actually reviewed only about 35 percent of the state’s bureaucracy, and came up with literally billions in savings. Gibbons now needs to have another SAGE Commission tackle the greatest budget items of all that were intentionally excluded in the original report. Untouched by the SAGE commission but making up 56 percent of all state expenditures, the education bureaucracy should be next.
Ira Hansen is a lifelong resident of Sparks and owner of Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing. You can reach him at email@example.com.