(Assemblyman Pat Hickey) – Everyone in the building has been waiting for the other shoe to drop. The first leg of the Democrat’s plan (union-demonstration/press conference/student-rally strategy) has been to embarrass Republicans enough to forget the fact that 700,000 Nevadans voted last November for two gubernatorial candidates who both promised not to raise taxes during Nevada’s worst-ever Recession.
The other shoe dropped finally this past Thursday in Carson. Even some Democrats were surprised it was such a lead boot.
When someone waits so long to do something that should have been done before, it is usually called, “too little, too late.” Waiting 90 days into the 120-day session to launch a discussion on the largest tax increase in Nevada history, Democrats may have introduced a new idiom to the political process, “too much, too bad.”
Legislators on the money committees have endured sermon-upon-sermon from Senator Steven Horsford on the hard-heartedness of Brian Sandoval and we rascal-like Republicans who apparently do not give a damn about any living being. Still, with only a few weeks left in the session, it may be time for the majority party leaders to do less talking and more “listening” if they want to have a conversation about finding budget solutions.
Even though the good Senator has cancelled three times a meeting he asked for with me, maybe I can still help him out. My 98 year-old Democrat Dad is fond of saying that “a penny saved is a penny earned.” To paraphrase my Depression-era father’s colloquialism, [with adjustments for inflation] millions of dollars saved are budgets earned.
Business people like myself and even conservative think tanks like the Nevada Policy Research Institute—believe a reasonable re-structuring of Nevada’s tax system to reflect 21st century realities, could be on the table. However if you want to talk about “taking” $ 1.5 billion in taxes from businesses without there being “give” from your union and trial lawyer constituencies—then we are not even close to sitting down together.
If you are interested, here once again are the reforms Republicans said they would discuss from day one.
1. Education—reforms with teeth along with wise governance as recommended by the Blue Ribbon Panel.
2. Collective Bargaining— more open system and local government flexibility with the public’s money.
3. Construction Defects—reform a corrupt system that penalizes contractors and rewards trial attorneys with billions.
4. Prevailing Wage—adjust the wages to reflect private sector not union costs and exempt schools to save money for the classroom.
5. Public Retirement System–start saving the system before it goes broke.
Pushing budgets beyond the state’s ability to afford them is like filling up a shopping cart with no plan to pay at the checkout stand.
The time for rhetoric from the rally is over. Real dialogue works better with adults.
(Assemblyman Hickey is a Republican representing District 25 in Washoe County.)