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SAGE Commission 2.0 an insult to taxpayers’ intelligence

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s ripoff of former conservative Gov. Jim Gibbons’ SAGE Commission is more like adding insult to injury.

SAGE stands for “Spending and Government Efficiency.” It was created by former conservative Gov. Jim Gibbons in May 2008, at the height of the Great Recession.

The commission chairman was Bruce James, a man who was not only a wildly successful businessman in the private sector, but wildly successful in public service as a reformer of the federal Government Printing Office under then-President George W. Bush.

The bi-partisan and bi-regional commission, as described by James in his final report delivered to Gibbons in January 2010, “was the strongest, most knowledgeable, most diversified group of business leaders ever brought together as a state commission in Nevada and perhaps in the country.”

It’s mission, successfully accomplished, was to identify ways of “making our state government smaller and more efficient to avoid the prospect of raising taxes in a declining economy.” Indeed, the commission’s 44 final recommendations were projected to save taxpayers some $2 billion over five years.

But rather than dust off and implement the SAGE recommendations, Sandoval instead shoved $1.4 billion worth of higher taxes down our throat this year, including a new anti-business gross receipts tax that 80 percent of Nevada voters rejected at the ballot box last year.

And now that the tax-and-spend horse is out of the barn; now that the largest tax hike in state history is in place and driving businesses out of state – NOW the governor announces the creation of SAGE 2.0.

But this isn’t your father’s SAGE Commission.

Indeed, SAGE 2.0’s appointed chairman is Dale Erquiaga, the governor’s childhood friend, #1 crony and career bureaucrat whose only identifiable experience in the private sector was as a government affairs lobbyist.

Also appointed was Republican In Name Only (RINO) Assemblyman Pat Hickey, who is quitting the Legislature rather than face voters next November after voting for Sandoval’s $1.4 billion tax hike.

And then there’s Glenn Christensen, chairman of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance which, according to its 2014 Annual Report, gets 1/3 of its operating revenue from “State Funds.”

Rounding out the roster on SAGE 2.0’s board is an employee for a public education foundation, an employee for MGM Resorts, a pastor, a hotel manager, a government affairs lobbyist for a gaming company, and two retired Clark County school district employees.

Yeah, these folks are really gonna tackle government spending and inefficiency.

SAGE 2.0 is a joke. If Gov. Sandoval was really interested in reducing government spending and boosting accountability he’d have put at least a couple of real fiscal conservatives on the board. Instead we get a sham group designed purely for PR and propaganda purposes.

Yet another insult to our collective intelligence by America’s Worst Governor.

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach and publisher of NevadaNewsandViews.com. You can reach him at ChuckMuth.com.

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