(Nevada Republican Party) – Yesterday we commemorated the 206th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. President Lincoln was a visionary who was able to bring about great change in our fractured Union during his tenure. He said many things that have endured the test of time and remain true in today’s political theater. One such quote was
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Yesterday, the term “political theater” was given new meaning. The public exchanges that were witnessed between elected Republican officials at Thursday’s Senate Finance committee hearing were divisive, spiteful and embarrassing for our party. They showed no respect for a fellow elected official and exhibited zero class while attempting to humiliate a fellow Republican.
Nevada Republicans work hard every two years to create a platform that outlines what we as Republicans believe in. The current platform calls on our elected representatives to support limited government, fiscal responsibility and equality, to name just a few key planks. These are principles that have formed the bedrock of the Republican party from the days of Abraham Lincoln, when Nevada was “Battle Born”, and they endure to this day.
When the Governor’s proposed budget was released, many Nevada Republicans felt that it did not properly respect their principles or the voice of the voters at the last election. To his credit, the Governor challenged anyone who disagreed with him to come up with a better idea.
One of our elected officials, Treasurer Dan Schwartz, accepted the Governor’s challenge. Pursuant to statutory authority, he attempted to present several alternative revenue ideas to ease the burden on Nevada businesses at hearings before the Senate Finance Committee. His ideas also respected the wishes of Nevada voters who resoundingly defeated a margins tax and changes in the mining tax just three months ago. Instead, the Treasurer’s ideas were met with open contempt and political grandstanding – sadly, from members of the Treasurer’s own party.
If we are truly “one Nevada”, then our elected officials must start acting like it. We will have disagreements, but those disagreements need to be respectful. Nevada Republicans don’t want to be forced to watch as our elected officials use schoolyard tactics to make their point. The challenges facing our great state require statesmanship, not bullying.
The claim was made yesterday that the status quo is to continually cut funding for vital programs, and many of those testifying accused the Treasurer of wanting to cut funding for one program or another. The truth is, of course, a very different story. The facts show that the actual status quo is to raise taxes and increase government spending. Taxes have been increased significantly in every single recent legislative session, and as pointed out in a report by Nevada Controller Ron Knecht, HHS and K-12 spending has increased by 37% and 23% respectively over the last decade.
The alternative ideas proposed by the Treasurer recognize this reality, and far from asking for spending cuts, the Treasurer proposes to continue the status quo of constantly increased spending. However, he correctly points out that it’s counterproductive to increase spending by $1.3 Billion to cover every possible item on the wish list. Instead, his proposals call on the legislature to prioritize needs, and increase spending only where absolutely necessary. Most importantly, his proposal calls for accountability to insure that any spending increases that are approved will show results.
Clearly, as stated in our platform, Nevada Republicans would prefer to see the state live within it’s means. We’ve proven that throwing money at the problem – 23% increase in K12 funding in 10 years – doesn’t help. Before we talk about increasing funding or adding new programs, we need to take a hard look at where existing dollars are going, which new programs are valuable and need funding, and know how we’ll measure their effectiveness. If we do that kind of analysis, we may find that we can redirect money from ineffective programs to new ones, and reduce even further the amount of proposed spending increases.
Tax and spending increases of the magnitude requested in the Governor’s budget have a negative effect on our state’s economy. In the 2014 special legislative session, the Governor and legislators, Democrat and Republican alike, agreed that this was true when they enticed Tesla to come to Nevada by offering them huge tax incentives, knowing that by temporarily giving up short term taxes the state will potentially gain far more revenue in long term, sustainable growth. Nevada voters know that this is true, also, and that was why they elected a Republican majority in November.
Nevadans hired Republican majorities to do a job, and that job is to govern. With their votes on two tax questions on the ballot, they made it clear that they were looking for solutions beyond the status quo of ever increasing spending without accountability. We call on our representatives to recall the platform that they ran under and then ask themselves if they’re ready to do the work of the people who elected them.
It’s past time to set aside partisan bickering and instead have the vigorous, respectful debate that the voters expected when we elected our representatives. When our legislators act as statesmen, Nevada state government will finally become, as Abraham Lincoln said,
“Government of the people, by the people, for the people…
As Republicans, we know that our principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility and freedom create the greatest good for the most people. We call on our elected representatives to govern by the principles that they campaigned on, so that Republicans can improve the lives of all Nevadans, and in so doing earn the right to continue governing in 2016 and beyond.