(Assemblyman Pat Hickey) – Monday marked the swearing in of state lawmakers at the 76th Legislative Session in Carson City. Given the arguably austere levels of state spending in most of the Governor’s proposed budget, this session is being billed as the “most difficult ever” in Nevada history. In fact, pain was evident in spaces at last Saturday’s Town Hall Meetings in Reno and Las Vegas. Insisting that state government continue, and even expand its current levels of service despite declining revenues, emotion-filled testimonies were shared from college students shell-shocked over likely fee increases, recipients of diminished mental health services, and teachers leery of accepting further pay cuts. With the Governor decreasing state spending, there is a growing push-back from those who both receive and deliver government services.
As someone who owns and operates a small business, I am surprised so far by the lack of visible private-sector support for the concept of shared-sacrifice and the “tough-love/no new taxes policy” Governor Sandoval has proposed. My own observation is that workers in the private sector have suffered even greater levels of salary cuts, benefit reductions and a lowered standard of living caused by Nevada’s economic downturn. The bloom has blown off Nevada’s economic boom resulting in equal-opportunity blight on both public and private employees alike. My approach going into this session is to work on taking steps toward long-term solutions, accepting the hard reality that we are all in this common suffering fellowship together.
One of the many rewarding things about being a citizen legislator is the opportunity to introduce legislation that does good and helps Nevada make money. A bill I am introducing this session comes from Reno attorney and best-selling author, Garrett Sutton, and focuses on the global problem of Internet-based piracy of books, music, films, and other creative activities. The Nevada Title Trademark Act will not only serve to deter such acts of digital theft, it also will aid Nevada’s economy by requiring large companies to domicile employees in the state in order to satisfy the jurisdictional requirements.
I encourage all of you to talk to your legislators during the next 120 days, but let me provide you with a cheat sheet for understanding the legislative shoptalk you will be hearing in the building. You may have heard Governor Sandoval use the term “bucket” to describe where budgets are stored. Other terms frequently used include “drilling down” (digging deeper into the details) into budget “silos” (agency reserves).
I hope this helps with the legislatorese you will be hearing in committee rooms. More importantly, let’s hope that drilling down won’t cause too many holes in the bucket and that the Silvers State’s silos will one day be replenished with sustainable revenues!
(Assemblyman Pat Hickey is a Republican representing District 25 in Washoe County, Nevada.)