(Chuck Muth) – Gotta at least give Republicans in the Assembly an “A” for effort. Late Thursday the fractured Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight during the 2009 legislative session at least did “something” during this current and ongoing special session to address Nevada’s budget woes.
“In the face of a void of leadership in Carson City,” wrote Assemblyman Ty Cobb in a Legislative Session Update email yesterday, “the Assembly Republicans have united behind our own budget deficit proposal that does not raise taxes in the middle of a recession.” Cobb added with gusto, “Make no mistake – even in a super-minority, we conservatives are now driving the agenda in this Special Session!”
If that sounds like hyper-hype, it is. Read on.
Late last night, the Washoe County GOP sent out an email message from Assemblyman John Hambrick which read, in part, “The Assembly Republicans have offered a proposal that does not raise taxes and balances the budget.” Hambrick boasted, “The Republican Party is not the party of ‘NO’.”
Just a couple of minor points.
As various news stories have already pointed out, the GOP proposal was pretty much copied from a confidential Democrat proposal, but with a few tweaks. As Anjeanette Damon reports this morning in the Reno Gazette-Journal, “Assembly Republicans on Thursday unveiled their own ‘unified solution’ built largely on the back of a plan already being crafted in private by the opposing party.”
And even the Las Vegas Review-Journal news story Assemblyman Cobb linked to in his email to back up his claims notes that the GOP proposal contains tax hikes. Or as the Reno Gazette-Journal put it this morning: “Assembly Republicans: They would increase state park fees, athletic commission fees and Gaming Control Board investigation fees for new licensees.”
Boasting by Assemblymen Cobb and Hambrick, so easily and prominently refuted, doesn’t exactly engender trust or credibility.
Oh, and by the way, there’s nothing wrong with being the party of “NO” when saying no is the right thing to do. For example, the Republicans should have, but didn’t, say no to putting $1 million back into the budget to keep the non-essential and racially divisive Equal Rights Commission.
The thing is, conservative Assembly Republicans actually COULD have driven the agenda during this special session had they truly understood and used the power they had at their disposal.
Democrats have taken for granted that they’d get a deal with enough Senate Republicans to pass pretty much whatever they want. And with their super-majority in the Assembly, the D’s have carte blanche there. But that’s only if you look at the numbers without taking political considerations into account.
You see, this is an election year. And Democrats are desperate to avoid being portrayed on the campaign trail as tax-and-spenders….again….still. So they want a LOT of Republicans votes, not just a few tokens, to give them “bipartisan” cover.
In addition, Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio also wants GOP votes in the Assembly so his caucus in the upper house doesn’t get all the blame for tax hikes….the way they did last year in approving the $800 million in “temporary” tax hikes.
So Assembly Republicans, small in number though they are, had cards to play and could have gotten some significant concessions during this special session on issues such as collective bargaining, prevailing wage, spending caps, school vouchers, additional and real PERS and PEBS reforms, etc. At the very least, they could have gotten far more public attention to various conservative issues and proposals.
But when push came to shove this week, most of the “Magnificent Seven” who have been portrayed as the principled “conservative caucus” in the Assembly joined go-along-to-get-along Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, who again joined Speaker Buckley and the Democrat majority, in kicking the can down the road by increasing taxes/fees and borrowing money to fill the budget hole instead of siding with Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons.
When the time came to stand and be counted, the firebrands went wobbly.
Only one of them had the stones to vote no.
Assemblyman Ed Goedhart (R-Amargosa Valley)
The Ron Paul of Nevada. Our own Doctor No. If only Republicans had more like him.