By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Nevada, with its many federal military installations — should be getting more money from the federal government, Sig Rogich said on Nevada Newsmakers.
“When you give away real estate to the federal government to conduct every type of secret mission known to man and get nothing in return for it, then something has to give,” Rogich told host Sam Shad.
And the Democratic administration of President-elect Joe Biden, may be persuaded to increase federal spending in Nevada, especially since Nevada’s two members of the U.S. Senate are also Democrats, Rogich said.
“Our two senators are Democrats. We have a Democrat governor. We have now a Democrat president. This should be a time when we get repaid for some of the things we do for the federal government, said Rogich, president of the Rogich Communication Group and a former adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr. plus Sen. John McCain.
“If you take Nellis Air Force Base and the air space that goes with it, the Fallon Naval Air Station and the Hawthorne Munitions Depot and you add that to Area 51 and the (Nevada nuclear) Test Site, those are just five good examples of the amazing amount of things we do for the federal government. And I don’t think we get repaid at all.”
A national study commissioned by the New York State Comptroller in 2018 showed Nevada ranked No. 22 in per capita taxes paid to the federal government but No. 43 in per capita federal spending.
“I think it is about time Nevada really stood up to the federal government in a positive and reasonable way,” said Rogich, a former U.S. ambassador to Iceland. “We are like a stepchild. You think of all the things Nevada does. First of all, the government owns close to 80 percent of the whole state. By what rational and reasonable (argument) should it own that much of our state?”
Nevada ranks No. 33 nationwide on the balance of payments between states and the federal government, according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government. For every dollar Nevada sends to Washington D.C, it gets $1.10 in return, according to the Rockefeller study, which is based on statistics from 2015 to 2018.
“We have done our fair share for the federal government over the years,” Rogich said. “You just name it. Look around our state. It is one big federal deposit of programs that help the federal government and we do not get paid in kind.”
Shad pointed out that Nevada’s misses out of additional federal funds by not matching federal dollars for senior and indigent health care plus road construction.
“That’s true,” Rogich said. “But that means we are not getting any credit for all of the other things we do, which theoretically are reaching those levels.
When federal land is auctioned off in Nevada, it is supposed to produce local and state tax revenue, Rogich said. Yet that system is not without problems.
“When they let land go to be auctioned, we’re supposed to get the benefit of the the tax revenue that comes with the development of those pieces of property,” Rogich said. “But what happened in Southern Nevada, the BLM auctions caused the rising of home values and land values to such a degree that it was a bubble.
“And it was just poorly handled,” Rogich added. “People came in, made extraordinarily big bids, eventually went bankrupt and gave them back and that set the stage for just bad planning.”