Posts Tagged ‘Newsmakers’

Cato Institute Senior Fellow Says Federal Government Spending Must Be Cut To Sustainable Levels

By Sean Whaley | 3:18 pm July 26th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A senior fellow with the Cato Institute said today the partisan fight over reducing federal spending is really between one class of people who work, produce, save money and pay taxes and a second group that lives off of the first group.

“This whole political clash between the Republicans and Democrats is really a clash in the electorate,” said Gerald O’Driscoll, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute. “And the first group wants to stop paying as much taxes; certainly does not want to pay the taxes that are implied by the debt that has been racked up in order to pay off on promises to the second group that can’t be fulfilled.

“This is reality coming home and that’s ultimately what underlies this great political debate,” he said.

O’Driscoll, who lives in Reno, was interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

Gerald O'Driscoll, senior fellow with the Cato Institute

The demand to cut federal spending has been linked by Republicans to raising the debt ceiling. The deadline for Congress to act on raising the debt ceiling is one week away, with Republicans and Democrats apparently still far away from any kind of agreement on how to cut spending.

O’Driscoll said federal government spending is at unsustainable levels right now.

“As recently as the Clinton Administration, government expenditures were 18.2 percent of total output of goods and services, GDP,” he said. “And they were 20 percent, a little under 20 percent, going into this downturn. Now they are 25 percent. That is more than the economy can pay.”

O’Driscoll said the federal income tax and other associated tax revenues produce about 19 percent of GDP on average, so the government can’t afford to spend 25 percent.

“That is unsustainable,” he said. “That is a big cutback that has to occur.”

The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization that describes itself as being “dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.”

Audio clips:

Gerald O’Driscoll, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, says the debate over the debt ceiling and federal spending is really about those who pay taxes and those who consume them:

072611Odriscoll1 :30 can’t be fulfilled.”

O’Driscoll says the reality of federal spending levels is pushing the debate:

072611Odriscoll2 :06 great political debate.”

O’Driscoll says current federal spending is unsustainable:

072611Odriscoll3 :20 economy can pay.”



Retired State Sen. Bill Raggio Opposes Full Home Rule For Local Governments

By Sean Whaley | 2:07 pm January 17th, 2011

Retired state Sen. Bill Raggio said in an interview aired today that he does not favor granting local governments complete home rule because of the potential for tax disparities between more affluent communities and those with fewer resources.

Raggio, in the second of two interviews aired on the Nevada NewsMakers television program with Sam Shad, said the Legislature has kept taxes, and tax increases, consistent across the state.

Giving local governments that power could result in inequities, he said.

“If you give absolute home rule, take away what is called Dillon’s case, then you’re going to find raising taxes, you’re going to have disparity,” Raggio said. “And we’ve tried to keep taxes consistent, and the rate of taxes consistent, so I think it would create some serious disparities around the state.”

Raggio, a Republican who announced his resignation earlier this month in the middle of his final term in the Senate, served longer in the upper house than any other lawmaker in state history, first winning election in 1973. He cited mobility problems as the chief reason for his retirement.

The Washoe County Commission will pick among 13 candidates on Tuesday for a replacement to serve in the 2011 session, which is expected to be one of the most contentious in state history.

The 2009 Legislature authorized an interim study of home rule, examining the feasibility of increasing the powers of local governments. The final report of the study recommended only modest changes, however.

Audio clips:

Retired State Sen. Bill Raggio says granting complete home rule to local governments would lead to tax disparities:

011711Raggio1 :13 to have disparities.”

Raggio says the Legislature has tried to keep taxes consistent:

011711Raggio2 :09 around the state.”

Sandoval Administration Confirms No Fee Increases In Proposed Budget

By Sean Whaley | 2:24 pm December 22nd, 2010

CARSON CITY – There will be no fee increases of any kind in Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval’s budget when it is presented to lawmakers next year, Chief of Staff Heidi Gansert has confirmed.

“Given the state of our economy, the governor-elect has decided there will be no new fees or taxes in the budget,” she said. “We don’t want any obstacles to an economic recovery. We want as much money as possible spent in the private sector.”

Gansert said Sandoval’s staff is working with Budget Director Andrew Clinger to go through the budget prepared by outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons in-depth to ensure any fee increases included in the plan are eliminated.

Gansert was asked to comment about the potential of fee increases in Sandoval’s budget after Robin Reedy, chief of staff to Gibbons, said a case could be made to seek fee increases for services provided by the state that are not fully covered by current assessments.

Reedy talked about the potential for fee increases in Sandoval’s budget in an interview Tuesday on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

Reedy said she believes the next two-year budget can be balanced without new taxes, but added: “A lot of people confuse taxes and fees. And I am not one to say, and this is where the governor (Gibbons) and I do tend to disagree and we have our debates, is a fee is not a tax. If a fee is for a service that is basically helping a segment of either society or business, capitalism means they should pay that cost of doing business.

“So there are fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles and various other areas that deal with either car sales or other areas that are business, that what they pay in fees do not compensate what we pay in salaries and the cost of doing business,” Reedy said. “The government should not be subsidizing any part of the economy.”

Reedy said it will be up to Sandoval and his administration, however, to determine whether to include fee increases in the budget.

But Gansert made it clear that Sandoval’s budget won’t include fee increases.

“We’ve ruled out new fees and taxes,” she said.

Sandoval said in an interview earlier this year that a major focus of his administration will be on job creation to get Nevada’s economy on track, and that any tax or fee increases in his budget would only harm that effort.

“Raising taxes and fees is the worst thing we can do when our economy is struggling,” he said.

Sandoval’s position is at odds with some lawmakers who have suggested tax increases will be needed to balance the state budget.

The National Conference of State Legislatures recently reported that Nevada will have the largest percentage general fund budget gap of any state in both fiscal year 2012 and 2013.

The Nevada Economic Forum projected the state general fund would see $5.3 billion in revenues in the coming two years, well below current spending levels because of the loss of federal stimulus funds and temporary taxes that will expire on June 30, 2011.

Sandoval said after the projection was made Dec. 1 that the revenue level would require agencies to cut $1.2 billion from already reduced budgets submitted this fall to Gibbons.

Audio clips:

Gibbons Chief of Staff Robin Reedy says she believes fees should cover the entire cost of some state services:

122210Reedy1 :29 of doing business.”

Reedy says government should not be subsidizing any part of the economy:

122210Reedy2 :09 of the economy.”

GOP Political Operative Sig Rogich Says Palin Not Electable As President

By Sean Whaley | 3:24 pm December 13th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Long-time Republican political operative Sig Rogich said today that Sarah Palin is not a viable candidate for president in 2012.

Rogich, who was involved in the campaigns of Ronald Reagan and both Bush presidents, said Palin, a Tea Party favorite and former Republican Alaska governor, is unelectable.

“I’m not overly enamored with (Palin),” he said.

“As a candidate nationwide I don’t think she is electable for a presidency, and I think that over time you will see reasons why,” Rogich said.

Rogich made his comments in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

Rogich said he does not believe a clear front-runner for the GOP in the 2012 presidential election has emerged yet.

Asked about possible choices within the GOP to face President Obama, Rogich mentioned former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour as potential candidates.

Rogich also headed up Republicans for Reid in the Nevada Senate race. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid easily won another term on Nov. 2, and Rogich said early on he did not believe the outcome of the contest against GOP challenger Sharron Angle was ever in doubt.

A lot of Nevadans, including moderate Republicans, thought Angle was eccentric and took positions that were not good for the state despite flawed polling that showed a much closer race, he said.

“So I felt pretty good about winning this election,” Rogich said.

Audio clips:

Nevada political operative Sig Rogich says Sarah Palin is not electable as president:

121310Rogich1 :08 see reasons why.”

Nevada Rep. Dean Heller Says Taxes Are His Biggest Concern In Lame Duck Session Of Congress

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:38 pm October 19th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said today his biggest concern about a “lame duck” session of Congress following the Nov. 2 general election is the potential for tax increases.

Heller, in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said with Democrats in control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate despite what happens on election day that, “taxes are my biggest concern.”

“We do not know what we’re going to look like,” he said. “Here we are, less than 100 days out from the end of the year; we do not know what our tax structure is going to look like. And my biggest concern is this lame duck session we’re going to start raising taxes.”

Heller said he is concerned that the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year without action by Congress might not be extended for everyone.

“They are saying the top 2 or 3 percent, that we’re going to let those fade away,” he said. “That’s a huge tax increase on small businesses. Fifty percent of the small businesses in this country are going to be hit with a tax increase at the worst economic situation that we’ve had since the Great Depression and I don’t believe it bodes well.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in his debate with GOP opponent Sharron Angle last week that he wants to continue the tax cuts for the middle class, but added there is a large federal deficit that may require the wealthiest Americans to pay more.

In the interview, Heller again declined to say if he will run for the Senate seat now held by John Ensign, R-Nev., in 2012, saying, “we’ll talk about that in about six months.”

On Angle’s campaign and lead in a recent poll, Heller said he is not surprised.

A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely Nevada voters released Monday showed Angle with 50 percent to Reid’s 47 percent. Two percent preferred another candidate in the race, and one percent were undecided. The race is considered a toss-up.

“This thing is going to go down to the wire,” Heller said. “I’ll be watching it like everyone else.”

Audio clips:

Rep. Dean Heller says he is concerned taxes may be increased in lame duck session of Congress:

101910Heller1 :14 start raising taxes.”

Heller says failure to extend tax cuts for all would mean a tax hike for small businesses:

101910Heller2 :18 it bodes well.”

Assembly Majority Leader Wants to Eliminate Nevada Revenue Volatility, Teacher Tenure

By Sean Whaley | 7:13 pm September 20th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera said today he believes the Legislature will have a great opportunity in 2011 to look at ways of broadening the state’s tax base to eliminate the volatility that has created Nevada’s boom and bust funding cycles.

Lawmakers have been working with Nevada business leaders, from mining to banking, and with labor groups, to find common ground on how to fix the state’s fiscal problems, Oceguera said in an interview Monday on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

But finding revenue to fill an anticipated state budget gap won’t be the only issue on the agenda for lawmakers and the state’s business and labor leaders, he said. Expanding the state economy and bringing new business to Nevada are also issues lawmakers must address next year, Oceguera said.

Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, also said reforms to the state’s education system, including retaining the best teachers and eliminating teacher tenure, have to be on the agenda for discussion in the upcoming legislative session.

“We have to retain our best teachers, so I think eliminating teacher tenure would be high on the list,” he said.

Oceguera said the position of both of the state’s leading candidates for governor that they won’t raise taxes is the right approach to begin addressing the state budget shortfall, which state fiscal experts say will be as much as $3 billion. The figure is disputed by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, which says the shortfall is much lower.

“We need to look at where we can find efficiencies in government,” he said. “Once we finish that process, we’ll have to see if there is something left over that needs to be taken care of on the revenue side.”


Audio clips:

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera says eliminating teacher tenure has to be considered as Legislature looks at education reform:

092010Oceguera1 :08 on the list.”

Oceguera says Legislature in 2011 will have a chance to fix volatility in state tax structure:

092010Oceguera2 :16 the tax base.”

Oceguera says lawmakers working with business and labor to deal with state’s challenges:

092010Oceguera3 :33 education component, so.”

Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley Supports Ground Zero Mosque Construction, Says May Run for Senate In 2012

By Sean Whaley | 10:05 am August 20th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley Thursday defended the right of mosque supporters to build their facility near Ground Zero in New York City, saying she supports religious freedom for all.

“I am supporting the Constitution when it comes to this issue,” Berkley, D-Nev., said. “As long as the zoning is appropriate and as long as the funding mechanism is appropriate; this mosque is being built on private property two blocks away from Ground Zero and I do not think the government ought to be involved in this decision-making process.”

Berkley said she respects the views and concerns of those who were victimized by the 9-11 attacks and who believe the mosque location is inappropriate.

“But what we’re talking about here is Constitutional protections afforded all Americans,” she said.

Berkley, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, also said she is “thinking about” running for U.S. Sen. John Ensign’s seat in 2012 but is focused now on her re-election to District 1 in Southern Nevada. Once the current campaign is over, Berkley said she will give the race more thought.

Asked if she would run if Rep. Dean Heller, R-NV, was the GOP opponent, Berkley said her decision would not be based on who was in the race from the opposition party. The race is likely to draw a number of candidates from both parties, she said.

“Senate seats don’t come up very often, and I suspect there will be a very robust campaign and primary on the Republican side and possibly on the Democratic side as well,” Berkley said.

Ensign is exploring the possibility of running for another term even though he has suffered significant political fallout after admitting in 2009 to an affair with a former staff member. An ethics investigation into how he handled the situation is under way.

Asked about the likelihood of Congress taking up immigration reform, Berkley said the issue needs to be addressed now.

“We should have addressed the immigration issue in this country 20 years ago,” she said. “It is getting worse by the day and if we continue to kick this can down the road it is not getting any better. Congress has got to step up to the plate and do our job.”

Berkley said comprehensive reforms should not include amnesty, but should find a way to address how to deal with the 12 million people residing illegally in the U.S.

In Congress fails to act, the country will see 50 different laws dealing with illegal immigration as states respond to the vacuum created without national reforms, she said. But Berkley said there are adequate laws on the books to deal with border security and illegal immigration. They just need to be enforced, she said.


Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says she supports mosque construction on religious freedom grounds:

081910Berkley1 :23 this decision-making process.”

Berkley says she is thinking about a run for Senate in 2012:

081910Berkley2 :24 side as well.”

Berkley says Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform:

081910Berkley3 :30 are here illegally.”

Budget Director Says Major Changes Needed To Fund Government Services

By Sean Whaley | 4:12 am August 10th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada could find a way out of its $3 billion revenue shortfall next year without raising taxes, but only if the Legislature looks at restructuring the way the state and local governments provide and pay for services, the state’s top fiscal officer said yesterday.

State Budget Director Andrew Clinger, interviewed Monday on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said the Legislature would also have to consider changes to the state’s collective bargaining law to get a handle on local government salaries, which he called “unsustainable.”

“I think there is a way to do it without raising taxes but you’re talking about some radical changes,” he said. “And I think the only way . . . to do it without raising taxes is you need to look at not only state government but you have to look at local government.”

Clinger said Nevada state government spends less money on its programs than other states. But when local government is added into the mix, the state falls into the middle of states on spending on government programs per capita.

The budget discussion in the upcoming legislative session would have to involve the potential shift of services between the government entities along with the revenues that would pay for them, he said.

In Nevada, property taxes pay for public education and local government but not state services. Sales and gaming taxes, along with the modified business tax and several other levies, are the revenues that fund state general fund government operations.

Clinger did not offer any specifics about what types of programs might be shifted as part of any realignment.

But Clinger said he does not see how the state’s potential $3 billion shortfall, which would approach 50 percent of what Nevada government needs to operate, from education to prisons, could be addressed solely with cuts at the state level.

The only program he mentioned during the interview was Nevada Check Up, a program funded by the state and federal government that provides health insurance to just under 22,000 low-income children who are not eligible for Medicaid. The program is costing the state general fund about $10.8 million this year. Another $25.4 million is coming from the federal government, funding that would be lost if the program was eliminated.

Clinger said the state’s collective bargaining statutes would also have to be part of any discussion by the governor and Legislature with local governments.

Clinger said the last surveys he reviewed showed state salaries about 7 percent ahead of the private sector, while local government salaries were running about 30 percent ahead of the private sector.

“You would have to open up the collective bargain statutes and make some changes there that could help sustain government moving forward because at those salary levels it is not sustainable,” he said.

State employees do not have collective bargaining rights in Nevada, although local government employees and teachers do.

Clinger said the $3 billion shortfall out of a two-year, $6.5 billion general fund budget can be partially addressed by actions the governor and Legislature can take on their own. State employee furloughs and benefit reductions, for example, could be continued for two more years at a savings of about $500 million, he said.

Much of the state budget shortfall is due to tax increases approved by lawmakers in 2009 that will expire unless extended, and the loss of future federal stimulus funds.

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said she has heard concerns expressed by local government officials that there might be an effort to transfer state services to the local level.

“I have talked to several county commissioners who are quite concerned,” she said. “I think those discussions should be happening now if they are going to happen. I haven’t seen anyone organize a formal discussion.”

Leslie, who is running for an open seat in the state Senate, said she has heard there might be a list of programs that could be eliminated entirely or that could be potentially transferred to local government. But the counties do not have any surplus funds they could infuse into state programs if a transfer occurred, she said.

With a new governor coming in January and the two leading candidates for the job rejecting any call for new taxes as a solution to the state’s budget problems, not to mention a major turnover in the Legislature with the departure of long-time leaders, “we’re in a very tenuous spot,” Leslie said.

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, a former state lawmaker, said a discussion of which level of government should provide what services is worth having, but she questioned whether it would deliver enough savings to make a significant difference in the state’s budget shortfall.

“I don’t think you can cost shift your way out of the budget problems,” she said.

Giunchigliani said the Legislature should take a look at the study on broadening the state’s sales tax base by the Nevada Policy Research Institute as a starting point for a conversation on the state’s revenue structure.

While not in support of taxing food or medical devices, the study looks at spreading the sales tax over a wider base while at the same time reducing the overall rate, she said.

“It gives the Legislature something to take a look at, and local governments should weigh in,” Giunchigliani said.

Ben Kieckhefer, public information officer for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, which operates the Check Up program, said the trend his agency has seen is counties transferring programs to the state when possible due to funding concerns.

One recent example is the state having to pick up elder protective services from Clark County, which occurred on July 31, he said.


Audio clips:

State Budget Director Andrew Clinger says local governments would have to be involved in plan to balance state budget without new taxes:

080910Clinger1 :31 to other states.”

Clinger said a shift of services and funding between state and local government would be needed:

080910Clinger2 :24 sorts of things.”

Clinger says the state’s collective bargaining law would have to be part of the discussion:

080910Clinger3 :30 it’s not sustainable.”

GOP Washoe Senate District 4 Candidates Question Opponents’ Records in Televised Debate

By Sean Whaley | 2:54 pm April 20th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Two of the four Republican candidates seeking to replace Sen. Randolph Townsend in state Senate District 4 in Washoe County attacked one another’s records in a debate televised today on the Nevada NewsMakers program.

Assemblyman Ty Cobb said one of his opponents, Ben Kieckhefer, has called for “revenue enhancements” which Cobb said is support for a tax increase. Kieckhefer denied the charge.

Kieckhefer said Cobb has been an ineffective lawmaker by failing to stop legislative tax hikes and by getting only one bill signed into law in two sessions of the Legislature.

Cobb said his record opposing tax increases is evidence of his effectiveness.

Two other candidates did not wade into the fray to such a degree, with Todd Bailey calling for the repeal of the state payroll tax as a way to create more private sector jobs.

“We need to get Nevada back to a place where we create a lot of new jobs,” he said. “That’s what we need to be focused on.”

Frank Wright said the recession gives lawmakers a chance to reign in the runaway government growth of recent years by reducing taxes and creating a more favorable business climate.

“We have for the last 10 years had a crazy increase in government spending and now we have to cut back,” he said. “It is because of the policies we have enacted that haven’t worked. We need to bring businesses back to this state.”

Cobb was also asked for a brief statement on a recent incident in which he kicked down a political campaign sign for Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, a Democrat who is running for a different state Senate seat.

Cobb said he apologized and offered to pay for a replacement, and that the incident is not a reflection on his judgment as a candidate for public office.

Cutting taxes, reducing the size of government and improving efficiencies in how necessary state services are provided are ways offered up by the candidates to help bridge what is expected to be a multi-billion dollar hole in the next two-year state budget.

Kieckhefer, currently the public information officer for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said improved efficiencies is one key to balancing the budget.

Kieckhefer, who said he will step down from his state job if he is elected to the Senate, said an example is an electronic application process being implemented in his agency that will make government more efficient.

“We need to pare down government to its most effective and essential levels, we need to cut our spending to that level, and at that point we need to evaluate as a state how we provide our services,” he said.

This would include a review of which levels of government are providing which services as a way to improve efficiency, Kieckhefer said.

Cobb said as a member of the Assembly he has consistently voted against tax increases approved by a majority of lawmakers. To get people back to work, he said Nevada should stop paying benefits to illegal residents, reform the public employee pension plan and limit the size of government to increase the amount of money available to the private sector.

The debate got a bit heated when Bailey accused Cobb of voting to eliminate the ability of voters to elect judges. Cobb rejected the claim, saying all he did was vote to put the issue of whether to elect or appoint judges to the voters in the 2010 general election.

Kieckhefer jumped in at this point, saying taxes and spending are the big issues in 2011.

“We’re all against higher taxes,” he said.

“No, you’re not against higher taxes,” Cobb said.

Cobb said Kieckhefer has made statements supporting higher taxes.

“I have not said that,” Kieckhefer replied.

Pointing to Cobb’s record, Kieckhefer said it is one of failure, demonstrated by the fact that Cobb has twice been voted the worst lawmaker in Carson City.

“I think the people of Washoe Senate District 4 need better representation than that when we’re going into a session that is going to be deciding redistricting  and deciding the future of our state,” he said. “He’s no good for us and we need to do better.”

Cobb replied that his ranking of worst lawmaker was the result of lobbyists grading him poorly because he has refused to raise taxes or expand the size of government.

“What I’m suggesting is that when Mr. Kieckhefer says we need revenue enhancements, which of course means tax increases, we cannot afford tax increases,” he said.

Kieckhefer said as a former member of the Gibbons administration, he worked on a policy of lower taxes.

Besides the four Republicans, Independent American M.K. Yochum is on the ballot in the Senate 4 race.

U.S. Senate Candidate Danny Tarkanian Says He Is “Independent Voice” for GOP Voters in June Primary

By Sean Whaley | 2:38 pm April 12th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Nevada Republican U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian said in an interview today he is the independent choice for voters in the June primary and that his leading opponent, Sue Lowden, is the choice of the establishment.

Tarkanian, who made his remarks on the Nevada Newsmakers television show, said voters want an independent voice, not someone like Lowden who has the backing of party officials including former Nevada Gov. Bob List, who is now the Republican National Committeeman.

Recent polls show Lowden as the clear front-runner in the GOP primary race with Tarkanian in second place.

“Sue Lowden has the establishment people supporting her and she is the establishment candidate, she can do that,” he said. “I believe people want an independent voice, someone who is going back to Washington, D.C. and represent the people, not the party chair or the party representative like Bob List.

“I have the people that are going to support me,” said Tarkanian. “I’m going to win this race in June.”

In response to a comment that he has been criticized by Nevada political consultant Chuck Muth, Tarkanian replied: “I don’t even know who Chuck Muth is. Glad he’s taking notice of me.”

Asked to respond to Tarkanian’s claim to be the independent candidate, Lowden Campaign Manager Robert Uithoven said: “Nothing says ‘establishment’ like running for your third different taxpayer-funded political office in the last four consecutive election cycles. That person is Danny Tarkanian.

“Sue Lowden is a conservative Nevada businesswoman who has taken on defeated an entrenched, powerful Democrat politician in the past,” he said.

In the NewsMakers interview, Tarkanian also called for an end to what he referred to as “pork barrel” spending by Congress.

“If the people in Florida want to pay for a tunnel so the turtles can go under the road and not get hit by a truck, the people in Florida should pay for that, the other 49 states’ citizens should not,” he said. “Nowhere in the Constitution does it say we should be paying for individual state projects.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has defended the practice, saying Congress as well as the president has the right to appropriate funds, called earmarks. Reid, who will face the winner of the crowded GOP primary, has been criticized for failing to bring more federal money back to Nevada.

Tarkanian said the tax dollars that flow to the federal government from the states for these projects should be left with the states. State officials can better decide whether to fund a particular project, he said. The current process of letting Congress decide on the spending priorities has created a “pork race” that is contributing to the federal deficit, Tarkanian said.

People want a more limited and responsible government, he said.

“They want these pork projects, these earmark projects, stopped,” Tarkanian said.

Chuck Muth is President and CEO of Citizen Outreach which provides funding for the Nevada News Bureau.