No surprise, but a little sad

I will confess to being slightly disappointed that Assemblywoman, Democratic lieutenant governor candidate (and top of the Democratic ticket) Lucy Flores declined to support The Education Initiative.

Flores, like all Nevada Democrats, can constantly be found saying Nevada chronically underfunds its schools and that we need more money for education. So when the Nevada State Education Association proposed the 2 percent margin tax (it will be Question 3 on your November ballot), I foolishly expected Nevada Democrats to jump at the chance to fix a problem they’ve been complaining about for years.

Alas, it was not to be. When the measure came before the Legisalture in 2013, it was ignored. (As a result, the measure automatically was sent to the 2014 ballot.) Only a handful of Democrats (none in leadership) have come out in favor of the tax, which has been opposed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, the business community, the gambling industry and even some in organized labor. (Hell, given a chance to weigh in recently, even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to offer an opinion either way on the tax, and he will say almost anything!)

So when Flores appeared on the March 24 edition of “Ralston Reports” and told host Jon Ralston, “That is not the proposal that I favor,” I wasn’t terribly surprised. But I was disappointed.

That disappointment wasn’t relieved by the fact that Flores played coy when the Review-Journal’s Laura Myers asked the candidate how she was planning to vote on The Education Initiative. (Yes, I can see Flores — all alone in the privacy of the voting booth, without special interests or pesky pundits looking over her shoulder — pushing the “yes” button for the tax. But that’s not really the point here.) And my disappointment was only confirmed when Flores repeated last week on Mundo Fox TV what she’d originally told Ralston: She’s against it, fears it could have negative effects on jobs, and “Unfortunately, that plan fails in many places and that is not a plan I can support.”

Insert disappointed sad face here.

But even though I’m disappointed, I can understand why Flores has taken that stance. First, supporting the tax would give whomever emerges from the Republican primary — either hotelier Sue Lowden or state Sen. Mark Hutchison — a big issue to use in the fall campaign. Second, with organized labor divided on the question (the teachers union may be the only union backing it), Flores risks cutting into her base by taking a stand. Third, although the progressive community supports the tax, it’s unlikely she’ll bleed progressives to the Lowden/Hutchison camp over this issue; they will rally to her side even without her support of The Education Initiative. Fourth, if the measure somehow passes despite what’s sure to be a very well-financed campaign against it, Democrats will get the benefit of the tax (more revenue for education) without any of the downsides (the union will have done all the work in proposing, circulating, passing, campaigning for it).

The only thing taking a stand in favor of the tax would have done is set Flores apart as a strong leader in a state where most politicians scurry away from taxes like vampires recoiling from the noonday sun, where there as apt to repeat thoroughly discredited talking points as to wrestle with hard questions, and where the Democratic standard bearers and their Republican counterparts often have the exact same position on taxes, which is to say, “no, thank you.”