Over the last two decades, Nevada's general fund spending has more than tripled from $1.0 billion in FY 1994 to $3.1 billion for FY 2013. Obviously, the explosion in Nevada's population and increased demand for public services attributed to spending increases. However, according to an NPRI study, "since the 2003 tax hikes, lawmakers have spent a cumulative $5.5 billion beyond the inflation-adjusted, per capita spending levels that existed in the decade beginning in FY 1994 and ending in FY 2003." These numbers show us that when times were going well, lawmakers made financial decisions without considering the day when the economy might not be as strong. That day is today. We need to enact reforms that would ensure that government spending does not exceed population growth and inflation.
Additionally, the legislature made positive steps last session by enacting performance-based budgeting. While eliminating wasteful spending is imperative, we should be more focused on making government more efficient so that we can prioritize state programs and ultimately spend less. Agencies should identify their objectives, prioritize those objectives, and then the legislature should evaluate how they can deliver those services in the least costly manner. Furthermore, Nevada should be open to consolidating the legislative and executive auditing offices into a state auditor's office who is completely independent from any political pressure. The state auditor should then be allowed to carry out performance audits of all Nevada agencies. The state of Washington enacted such a plan and identified hundreds of millions in savings. Nevada should be open to this approach if it would save tax payer dollars.