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Former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller says taxes will be part of state budget solution in 2011


by Sean Whaley, Nevada NewsBureau: Former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller said Monday it is unrealistic for both major party candidates for governor to say they won’t raise taxes in the upcoming 2011 session.

Miller, a Democrat who served 10 years as the chief executive, said he, along with former Democrat Gov. Richard Bryan and the late Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn, told a group of Reno business leaders earlier this year that new tax revenues will be an inevitable part of any budget balancing plan next year.

“It’s not possible in the next biennium to balance a budget without some additional revenues, that’s just going to happen,” he said.

Miller made his comments in an interview on Face To Face with Jon Ralston, who also had as a guest former GOP Gov.Robert List.

The state faces an estimated $3 billion shortfall in the amount of revenue expected to be required to fund government services and public education in the next two years, equal to 45 percent of the total general fund budget.

But both Democrat Rory Reid and Republican Brian Sandoval have said they won’t raise taxes to balance the budget if elected governor.

Reid last week presented a plan showing how he would find $2.5 billion in cuts and savings, although some of his numbers have been questioned. Sandoval has not yet presented a plan on how to balance the state budget without a tax increase.

Miller noted that current Senate leadership of both parties has said tax increases are likely next session.

He called it “wishful thinking” on the part of the candidates to say taxes won’t have to be a part of the budget solution.

Miller said there is also some political posturing because in an election campaign, “you don’t want to be the person out there indicating the bad news.”

“But the reality is it is not going to work to do it any other way,” he said.

Both Miller and List, commenting on the first debate between Sandoval and Reid on Sunday in Las Vegas on education issues, said they saw no surprises in the hour-long discussion.

Reid, trailing significantly in the polls, went on the attack, and Sandoval stayed on message trying not to lose any ground with voters.

List said since both candidates are talking about reform and accountability for public education, there may be an opportunity next session to see some meaningful changes.

The wildcard has always been the public employee unions, with Democrats generally supporting their position, he said.

Reid has broken with that long-time support to a small degree, suggesting there may be an opportunity for some change in 2011, List said.

But List said he believes it will be very difficult for Reid to come out on top on election day Nov. 2.


Audio clips:

Former Gov. Bob Miller said tax increases in 2011 are inevitable:

083010Miller1 :10 going to happen.”

Miller says not raising issue of taxes partly wishful thinking on part of Reid and Sandoval:

083010Miller2 :15 any other way.”

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