We can take it

Four unnecessarily difficult years are behind Nevada and its new governor, Brian Sandoval, has taken charge.

Like all responsible Nevadans, we want the governor to succeed. His Jan. 3 inaugural address was heavy on optimism. Indeed, the governor used the terms optimism and optimistic 11 times in the speech.

Sandoval is an upbeat fellow, so that was not surprising. And optimism is fitting for an inspirational occasion like an inaugural. But we hope the governor will also begin leveling with the public more than his predecessor did about the difficulties Nevada faces.

Every indication is that the news will be worse before it is better. There is every reason to believe that the state’s principal industry has seen its best times and will never again return to its glory years. While there is some effort being put into replacing gambling with other industries, that will take time and it is unlikely they will produce the numbers of jobs the casinos did.

There may be recovery ahead, but there is no sign of it now and the greater likelihood is that Nevada will be in recession for a while, or that today’s situation is simply the way we will now live. The state may have reached bottom, but that doesn’t mean it then automatically start to rise. Our unemployment rate has been at the same low level, about 14 percent, for months.

The state’s poor planning for hard times have painted it into a corner. The governor may find himself needing to ask sacrifice of our state’s residents. Programs will be cut some more.

Government does not work like business. When the customer base of businesses falls, the customer base of government rises. Good working people have paid for human service programs in good times and are entitled to have those programs there for them now when they are needed, in bad times.

Ebullience and optimism have their places, but residents of Nevada are entitled to hear the problems their state faces bluntly and candidly. They should not be fed buoyant and hopeful predictions unless there is very real evidence of recovery. Sales pitches are for businesses the state is trying to lure, not for Nevadans.

It is not easy to be reassuring while at the same time alerting the public and hazards on the road into the future. Franklin Roosevelt managed it in very, very hard times.

But if Gov. Sandoval wants the public in on the landing he’d better have them with him on the takeoff. And that can happen only if they understand how desperate the state’s situation is and how bleak things are going to be for the foreseeable future. He can inspire at the same time he is telling them the truth the bad news. It’s a tightrope, but this is not a time for sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. The public needs honesty.