(Chuck Muth) – Liberal heads were exploding all over the state this week after the man tapped by the Washoe County Commission to replace Sen. Bill Raggio (R) – who was a lock to vote to raise taxes and fees this upcoming legislative session – pledged support for Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and vowed not to vote to raise taxes or fees.
“This is not the time to raise taxes,” former state Assemblyman Greg Brower (R) told the Commission before they chose him as Raggio’s replacement in Reno’s Senate District 3. “We must do the best we can to balance the budget with the revenue we have.”
He reaffirmed his position later, telling the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Ray Hagar that “he agrees with Gov. Brian Sandoval that the budget should be balanced without raising taxes,” and telling Ed Vogel of the Las Vegas Review-Journal that with unemployment at a record high, “Now is not the time to increase the tax burden on Nevadans.”
So this guy must be one of those wild-eyed, no-new-taxes, tea party extremists we’ve heard so much about, right?
As a two-term Republican assemblyman back at the turn of the century, Brower was known as a pragmatic moderate. So it must be driving the left and the media…but I repeat myself…nuts to see flaming moderates such as Brower and Sandoval talking like hard-core right-wingers such as Chuck Muth and Grover Norquist.
For his part, Sen. Raggio described Brower as a “reasonable man,” which now must mean folks who say “no new taxes” aren’t “Birchers” in Sen. Raggio’s book, but reasonable men and women, right?
Seriously, this issue is hilariously tying tax-hiking Republicans such as Sen. Raggio in knots. After all these years of criticizing and dismissing tax hike hawks, their own kind have become…tax hike hawks. And in what can only be described as a form of clinical denial, Sen. Raggio and other like-minded tax-happy Republicans are now twisting themselves in even bigger knots trying to claim that proposals which aren’t tax hikes are tax hikes that violate pledges not to raise taxes.
Last week came claims that if the university budget is cut and the regents raise tuition instead of cutting expenses and programs, that that is somehow a back-door tax hike which violates Gov. Sandoval’s promise not to raise taxes or fees. That’s a stretch of mega proportions. And now Sen. Raggio is claiming that if Sandoval and Brower “shift services to local governments, that hardly is keeping a pledge not to raise taxes.”
Yes, it is.
Again, if the local governments are given responsibilities currently being handled by the state, then the local governments have the option of cutting other non-essential services instead of raising taxes. And hey, maybe they’ll have to reduce those obscene $200,000+ salaries for firefighters, huh?
In any event, Brower’s announcement would appear to take tax hikes in the 2011 session completely off the table. Democrat Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford needs three GOP votes to get the 2/3 super-majority necessary to raise taxes or fees. With Raggio came the votes of Sen. Dean Rhoads and probably Sens. Ben Kieckhefer and Joe Hardy. Without Raggio and without Brower, Horsford might now be able to only count on Rhoads, at best.
But you never know.
Sen. Brower has taken tax hikes off the table. Sens. Barbara Cegavske, Elizabeth Halseth, Don Gustavson and Michael Roberson have also taken tax hikes off the table by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. However, in addition to Sens. Rhoads, Kieckhefer and Hardy, we don’t yet have a firm, no tax- or fee-hike commitment from Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness or Sen. James Settelmeyer.
Which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
What Sen. McGinness ought to do is draft a letter to SML Horsford which is signed by every Republican in the state Senate which simply says, “Unless you can persuade Gov. Sandoval to renege on his promise not to raise taxes or fees, none of us will vote to do so either.”
And then all 16 GOP members of the Assembly should say “Ditto!”
That would be a clear, much-needed show of support for the new governor, as well take tax hikes completely and totally off the table before the 2011 session even starts. Then, every time a Democrat in the Legislature starts talking about raising taxes or fees, Republicans will be able to chastise them for wasting precious legislative time instead of dealing with legislative reality.
That every Republican legislator isn’t publicly full onboard in support of Gov. Sandoval on this issue is embarrassing to them. Are any of them really going to vote for higher taxes against the wishes of the Republican governor who RAN ON THIS ISSUE AND POSITION and was elected by an overwhelming majority of Nevada voters? And are any of them really going to then vote to override Gov. Sandoval’s veto.
Seriously, somebody needs to get these GOP legislators with the program! In fact, if you get a moment today, why not make a call or send an email yourself:
Remember…just as Sen. Raggio incessantly reminds us that “compromise” isn’t a four-letter word, neither is “no.” And we’re happy that on this tax-hike issue, Sen. Brower has embraced it.