Letter — Guinn writes in response | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Letter — Guinn writes in response

Tahoe Daily Tribune

Editor’s note: Gov. Kenny Guinn submitted the following letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal.

I must take exception to your Feb. 7 editorial in which you state “Nevada has real needs but among them is a complete reorganization of state government before taxes are raised.”

Since becoming governor in 1999, I have embarked on precisely that path, ordering a fundamental review of state government. I applaud the many steps you cite taken by many of my fellow governors because they are following the lead taken by Nevada. For the past four years, we have frozen more than 1,600 state positions, eliminated 800 positions by privatizing our state industrial insurance program and prevented about 3,000 state positions from being created despite our record population growth. Since I became governor, our state agencies have operated with flat budgeting — the process of creating a budget based on the prior year’s funding without increased across the board spending — while we’ve cut more than $250 million from our budget. This was all before the economic downturn in 2001.

In spite of flat budgeting, dramatic staffing reductions and major budget cuts, Nevada finds itself projecting a revenue shortfall of $704 million in the upcoming biennium. As the fastest growing state in the nation, we are required to address the health of our citizens and hire teachers to accommodate the 27,000 new students our school districts will take on during the next two years. Meanwhile, our tourist-dependent economy derives two-thirds of its revenue from just two sources — gaming and sales tax. Many of the tax-cut options you cite in the editorial are not options in Nevada. As an example, Gov. Bill Richardson in New Mexico is proposing to cut the state’s capital gains tax, and cut the top income tax rate to 7.7 percent. Here in Nevada, we cannot cut either of those taxes because they do not exist. Before writing your next editorial about a Nevada-related subject, please give me a call so I can help you better research your topic.

Kenny Guinn

Governor of Nevada