I remember a time back in the sixth grade when I turned in a book report. Mr. Levanis reviewed it, handed it back to me and said, “This isn’t acceptable. Go back and do it over.”
And that’s exactly what Republicans in the Assembly should tell Gov. Brian Sandoval about his $7.3 billion budget and corresponding billion- dollar tax hike. Instead, they’re feverishly and foolishly working on alternative budgets and alternative tax hikes.
This is the price Nevada taxpayers are being forced to pay for the John Hambrick screw job done to conservative Assemblywoman Michele Fiore before the start of the session when the speaker unilaterally removed her as chairman of the taxation committee.
With Fiore out of the way and a number of GOP legislators sidelined by political threats or political “bribes,” Sandoval felt free to officially launch this week his Gruberesque propaganda campaign to pass his billion-dollar tax hike — “Gruber” being a reference to the now-infamous MIT professor, Jonathan Gruber, who admitted to lying to the public in order to pass Obamacare.
Now, I’m reliably told there are as many as 20 Republicans in the Assembly who will not vote for the governor’s tax hike. And it only takes 15 — thanks to the Jim Gibbons tax restraint law — to kill it. Problem is, too many of them have nerves of rubber and are scared to tell the governor that his budget is dead on arrival and to go back and do it over.
And make no mistake; doing it over is the governor’s responsibility, not the Legislature’s.
The governor has an army of taxpayer-funded professional budget analysts at his beck-and-call. Legislators have an old Texas Instruments pocket calculator.
Legislators have neither time nor staff to produce in a matter of weeks what Sandoval’s army has been concocting for over a year. So if Assembly Republicans have the 15 votes to kill the billion-dollar tax hike, they should tell the governor that, publicly, now.
Those budget number-crunchers are paid by taxpayers to do what the governor tells them to do. And if Assembly Republicans tell Sandoval to go back and come up with a budget that meets the $6.3 billion allowance the Economic Forum has given him, that’s exactly what they’ll do.
It’s not that Assembly Republicans don’t have the power to force the governor’s hand. The problem is they don’t have the …um, well, you know.
Indeed, only four Republicans in the Assembly have told me they’re a definite “no” on the billion-dollar tax hike: Fiore, John Moore, Shelly Shelton and Jim Wheeler. The rest have to be assumed at this point to be “yes” votes unless or until such time as they publicly declare otherwise.
It’s time for these fence-straddlers to pick a side — and for taxpayers to break out the pitchforks and light the torches.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.muthstruths.com.