I have a great deal of respect for Higher Education Chancellor Jim Rogers.
He is one of those guys that, agree with him or disagree with him, puts his money—which he made himself—where his mouth is, picks up the biggest bat he can find and swings away.
He took the Chancellor’s job for $1 a year and has done, by most accounts, a credible job for an outsider—although he may have contracted a bit of the Stockholm Syndrome from the folks who he’s in charge of.
Jim is mad as hell about the 36% budget cuts that the state’s educational system is going to have to endure in the current economic downturn.
You see, our state’s tax base largely depends on how well our citizens are doing economically.
We depend on sales taxes, gaming taxes, a very limited payroll tax, a bank payroll tax and that always popular tax, a real estate tax.
Well, real estate is in the toilet, a function of some really dumb banking ideas, people are spending less money on stuff, killing the sales tax which in turn is hurting employment numbers, thus the limited payroll tax.
Now Jim’s solution to the problem of a 36% budget cut is "a new and productive tax system".
Here’s the problem.
We always seem to get back to the concept of changing the state’s constitution and imposing a state income tax.
Right now, if the people don’t do well, neither does the state’s governmental apparatus.
You would think that would be an incentive for the state’s governmental apparatus to insure the citizens would do well.
But Nooooooo (as John Belushi would have said).
While mere common folks are getting laid off, the state has a governmental pension plan which threatens to eat a chunk of every resident’s wallet.
I’m not one of those people who thinks we need no government.
But I do believe that which governs least governs best.
And I also DO believe that we have a responsibility to educate our youth. Coming from a family of educators (who worked at all levels) I could have no other viewpoint.
But I would observe that funding is only part of the equation.
And I would also observe that you cannot fund a state’s government by bankrupting its citizens.
One thing I have seen in my 43 years of working in the media is that government (and, by extension, education) always expands to consume all the available money and then always asks for more. It’s the nature of the beast.
So, as much as I respect Jim Rogers, I am against any tax system which doesn’t deal with the reality of the economic condition of the people who are being taxed.
Sure, we probably need a higher funding level for education. Wouldn't it be nice if UNR were as highly regarded as USC?
Jim, after all, is a pretty good businessman and he can count. He knows what that would cost.
But you cannot tax people into the ground and, lest you think that corporations actually pay taxes, just remember that it is a fact that any taxes levied on businesses are actually paid by their customers. Us.
What the legislature and the Governor really need to do is to concentrate on improving the state’s economy. The tax revenue will follow.