Monday, June 02, 2003

Gee, thanks, George

To get its tax cut package through Congress, the Bush administration had to allow an unwise $20 billion bailout of state governments (thanks primarily to California, which is quickly deteriorating into Third World status). Nevada got a little windfall from the deal as well, amounting to roughly $100 million. Rather than use the money to close the current budget gap, which is what the bailout was intended to do, the Guinning Spree continues. (Thanks to my colleague Vin Suprynowicz for coming up with that one.) Most of it will finance a permanent 2 percent pay hike for state employees, beginning next year, AND the government will triple the longevity pay given to workers who have been malingering on the taxpayer dime for so long they've run out of automatic step "merit" pay raises. So the fattest bureaucracy in the nation gets a little chunkier, thanks to our "conservative" president's deal-makers in washington.

This little windfall will be the gift that keeps on giving, as Nevada taxpayers will have to pick up the tab for the pay raise permanently, even though the down payment that made it possible will run out next year. It's like getting a $1,200 bonus and -- rather than, say, paying down your credit card debt -- going out and buying a new house with a mortgage that's $100 a month higher than your current one.

The cost of this Guinning? $67 million a year, for starters. Firing squads may be in order.

CORRECTION: The AP story was off, on a couple of accounts. Nevada received a $68 million windfall from the feds. And the money wasn't spent directly on the pay hikes, but did free up enough room in the state budget to allow the pay hikes to go through. Details, details.

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