Defending his call for nearly $1 billion in new taxes, Gov. Kenny Guinn said Monday that it would be "political cowardice" for lawmakers to oppose the biggest tax hike in the state's history, given its pressing needs.
The Republican governor, in his state of the state address to the Legislature, outlined a budget for the next two fiscal years that, with his tax plan added in, hits a record $4.89 billion.
Guinn warned that inadequate funding of education, social services and other government programs "is a road that is shortsighted and paved with irresponsibility."
"The legacy of once again running from our duty as leaders will produce a devastating effect on every single Nevadan," he added.
Without new funds, seniors would lose nursing-home care and affordable medicine, students would suffer, poor children would lose health insurance, and Medicaid recipients and the mentally ill wouldn't get needed prescription medicine, Guinn said.
"These are not threats, they are realities," Guinn said. "To me, this is not a choice worthy of our citizens. It is not a choice for leaders, but a choice of political cowardice."
Guinn urged bipartisanship in considering his proposals. He'll need every vote he can get, since any tax hike requires a two-thirds' majority.
The governor, said that during his first term, he took "bold steps" to hold down state spending. Guinn said the efforts helped, but not enough to ward off the negative effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, increased competition from Indian gambling and Nevada's reliance on tax sources heavily dependent on tourist traffic.