Always look on the bright side of life

The full Center on Budget and Policy Priorities article and tables may be read at here.

The state of the states grates on us all, bringing a hiatus from happy days that includes Nevada and the Silver State’s beleaguered residents.

Most states’ revenue woes and accompanying cutbacks in services won’t end soon. Economic malaise will prolong problems; talk of more stimulus may come from Democrats.

There is at least one way in which Nevada should benefit from the problems, longer term, but now the perceived pain is too great for most to see past economic malaise and the budgetary woes in so many states and communities.

We’ll check the potential Nevada benefit out below.

Now we’ll focus on the sorry mess still gathering steam in most states. The mess—a slow motion train wreck from collapsed housing prices, the credit crunch, and unemployment—is like manna to liberal Democrats.

They don’t like it any more than the rest of us, but it suits their long-term big national government agenda.

The War Between the States, income tax authority, two world wars, a Depression, and welfare for poor and rich alike diminished states’ rights and kept their powers puny. To put it bluntly, states are now poor relations.

This suits modern liberals—many of them Democrats—who equate states’ rights with usurpation of civil rights. They view central government as the font of all things egalitarian and, for that matter, of all things to all people.

So despite rhetoric decrying the need for stimulus money from Big Bro, few are shocked that our overarching government (with income tax and borrow-til-you-barf authority) pulls states’ fat from the fire in times like these.

And if you think the stimulus party is over, the recession at bay and the states back in the pink, ponder this:

“Most states have adopted budgets that closed the shortfalls they faced with a combination of federal stimulus dollars, service reductions, and funds from reserves,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported this month. “But these budgets are already falling out of balance as the economy has caused state revenues to decline even more than projected.”

Looking ahead, the center sees more trouble. “States will continue to struggle to find the revenue needed to support critical public services for a number of years,” it said. It cited a $168 billion shortfall in 48 states for 2010, with more to come.

“The states’ fiscal problems will continue into the next fiscal year and likely beyond,” said the center. “At least 36 states have looked ahead and anticipate deficits for fiscal year 2011.”

The center noted that of the 30 states putting a dollar figure on the 2011 problem, 15 percent of their budgets and $74 billion in overall shortfalls were possible.

Right now the Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee is monitoring matters despite the 2009 Legislature’s patchwork-quilt bid to close any shortfall. Until gaming receipts, sales tax revenues and other fiscal sources revive, lots of luck.

Nevada, as the policy center explained in its report, is just one example.

In California, the picture is even bleaker. California is among the worst examples, being the largest state caught with bull-shifting commitments and bear-shifting revenues.

It also exhibits rope-a-dope style of state government decision-making.

But I promised you something upbeat. So here, if you think this is upbeat, it comes:

While this plays out—and it will, eventually—Nevada population growth is inevitable because Californians will keep coming over the Sierra Nevada Mountains to escape generations-long loopy government and taxation.

Still, that leaves the big question of how to cut the Feds down to size. Again, lots of luck.