By Ron Knecht

Nevada State Controller

Sunday, Assemblyman Erv Nelson and others broke their key election promises to fight huge destructive tax hikes and make state government operate reasonably.  Nelson used glittering generalities and platitudes to explain that he didn’t really understand matters very well back when he made his promises, even though he’s an experienced lawyer.  But now he understands and so has changed his mind.

If he thinks he now understands matters correctly, then he must logically also believe that folks who voted for him based on his promises don’t understand.

The mainstream media feasted on Republicans rejecting their roots and promises, seeing the light of statist liberalism, and helping pass Nevada’s largest tax increase ever.  Marginal pundits raved and a left-wing paper ran atop its front page a huge picture of Nelson speaking.

While his perfumed words made them swoon, his statement was unsupported by any real facts, numbers or analysis essential to the issues and to his political sects change.  But those things don’t much matter to the tax, spend and regulate zealots, including the statist mainstream media, as long as touching narratives are spun with feel-good rhetoric.

They matter to the rest of us and they should be central to the whole discussion.  So, I put the following challenges to anyone who supported the tax and spending increases.

Did you know that Nevada state spending has increased over the last decade by ten percent more than the incomes of our families and businesses? So, even before your record $1.3-billion tax hike, their burden has risen not just for inflation and population growth, but also to feed the maw of gluttonous government and predatory special interests.

Spending has grown so fast that Nevada is no longer a small-government state, an old claim progressives and cronyists trot out to make their destructive taxes seem okay.  The total state and local tax burden on Nevadans ranks 25th or 26th among the states and DC, depending on how you measure it. That’s exactly in the middle and moving consistently up.

Does the out-of-control growth of government here concern you at all as you vote recklessly to raise it to ridiculous levels?  It should, because growth of government at all levels – exemplified by Nevada – has caused economic growth to slow over the last half century to a crawl in recent years.  That has choked off opportunity and prosperity, especially for folks not in the cronyist elite who manipulate government to their advantage.

You say you reluctantly joined this latest tax-and-spend orgy to benefit our children by fixing our awful K-12 schools.  Did you know that state spending over the last decade for K-12 has already sky-rocketed 23 percent per student in real terms?  Besides increases for student population growth and inflation and before your outrageous increases, Nevadans are already spending nearly one-fourth more of their incomes than a decade ago on a predatory, wasteful, unaccountable and failing K-12 monopoly.

You say the Governor has a plan to fix those schools with massive new categorical programs that he assures you will work.  Did you know that we’ve already been down that path various times in the last 20 years with nothing to show for it?  This reckless throwing of money at teacher unions and big-county school boards and administrations has not produced any improvements in student achievement. Now you’re embracing all-day-K and pre-school mandates already proven ineffective elsewhere to augment the class-size reductions Nevada previously adopted to no avail, despite similar poor track records. Why?

Do you know that the empirical research literature shows little to no correlation between K-12 spending and student achievement?

Do you understand that what our children really need is two things?  First, low-cost K-12 policy changes, such as greatly increased parental choice, that actually work; it’s less about how much money we spend and more about how we spend the money.  Second, reining in of government spending, taxes and regulation so we can return to the historic economic growth levels that gave our generation prosperity and opportunity way beyond what our parents had.

It’s easy to bleat, “Do it for the children!” while throwing taxpayer megabucks at predatory special interests.  If you really cared about our kids, you’d consider the big picture – namely that Big Government and its predatory provider and crony partners are the real threat to their future.  For 200 years, Americans enjoyed prosperity and opportunity that made each generation twice as well off as its parents – before we destroyed that growth and freedom by embracing the nonsense that culminated in Sunday’s vote.

I challenge Nelson and anyone supporting the massive tax-hike to answer these facts, numbers and analyses directly on their own terms, instead of hiding behind Sunday’s false rhetoric.