(Chuck Muth) – On Thursday I joined Jon Ralston, the dean of Nevada political pundits, on a panel moderated by Mitch Fox, longtime host of Nevada Week in Review. The to-and-fro was practical, philosophical, serious and sometimes humorous. In fact, we’re thinking of taking the act on the road.
And I was only half-kidding in my remarks when I suggested to the audience that everyone should just let Jon and me run the government. Give the two of us an open bar and a stack of cocktail napkins and we’d have this whole budget mess straightened out in one happy hour.
And hey, we couldn’t do any worse than the folks who have been running the show for the last 20 years, could we?
Surprisingly to some, Jon and I find ourselves in agreement on some major issues far more often than most would think. Like how we both agree that the Legislature should debate and resolve the issue of broadening Nevada’s tax system in a revenue-neutral fashion BEFORE taking on the issue of whether or not we need more revenue to fund essential services.
Now, what constitutes “essential” would likely be a matter of significant disagreement between the two of us, but that’s what the liquor is for.
Another area of common agreement regards the upcoming redistricting battle royale which is likely to foul up efforts to resolve the state’s budget problems during the regular session.
“Here’s an idea,” Jon wrote in his Friday Las Vegas Sun column. “Maybe Gov.-elect Sandoval, with assent from legislative leaders, should announce in January that the redrawing of lines will occur in a special session after the regular session, with no discussion of maps allowed until then. Now that’s an idea that Republicans, RINOs and Democrats should embrace. Who’s on board?”
Other than me and Jon, that is.
Which brings me to another issue raised in Jon’s column.
He notes that state Sen. Mike McGinness initiated the coup that ousted Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio a couple weeks ago in part because of Raggio’s push to raise taxes in the 2009 session right in the middle of the Great Recession.
And yet McGinness told Jon in a televised interview earlier in the week that he won’t make the same no-new-taxes pledge Gov.-elect Sandoval has made because he believes “everything has to be on the table” even though we’re still in the middle of the Great Recession. How does that make any sense?
I would love for somebody to call the bluff of legislators’ who say “everything has to be on the table.” I mean, if “everything” is on the table, does that include legalizing and taxing marijuana, legalizing and taxing prostitution, legalizing and charging a fee for gay marriages, charging a special license surcharge to motorcyclists who want to ride without wearing a helmet, and reopening negotiations to build a high-tech nuclear waste reprocessing and storage facility at Yucca Mountain?
Or does “everything” only include raising existing taxes?
Meanwhile, incoming Sandoval chief-of-staff Heidi Gansert declared last week that tax and fee hikes were “off the table” – which is a 180-degree reversal from the position she took as Assembly Minority Leader in the 2009 session, as well as during the 2010 election cycle when she all but ordered GOP candidates not to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
No wonder no one knows what Republicans in Nevada stand for. It apparently depends on what day of the week it is.
And finally, in that same Ralston column on Friday, Reno RINO Mayor Bob Cashell is quoted as saying…
Um, who cares what Cashell says? Never mind.