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Democratic lawmakers being ‘rude,’ Republican senator says

CARSON CITY — The Legislature doesn’t formally convene for 11 days, but already Republicans are accusing Democrats of rude behavior toward members of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s staff.

Barbara Cegavske, the senior Republican senator from Southern Nevada, on Wednesday accused unnamed Democrats of being rude Tuesday toward Heidi Gansert, Sandoval’s chief of staff.

"I felt this body was rude to Ms. Gansert," Cegavske said. "We should show a civil demeanor."

Legislators are holding pre-session hearings on Sandoval’s proposed $5.8 billion general fund budget, a budget that is down 6.4 percent from current spending.

Democrats feel the reduction is even larger when one counts the loss of one-time federal stimulus money and considers spending reductions ordered at a special session in February.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said during a hearing Tuesday that Gansert and Budget Director Andrew Clinger were soft-pedaling the magnitude of cuts on teacher pay and university funding.

He also accused the administration of using financial "trickery" to balance the budget with borrowing and fiscal gimmicks that total more than $1 billion over two years.

Horsford made no apology Wednesday.

"I will take the full responsibility for every word and statement I make," he said. "I was the primary person digging yesterday. I respect the office of the governor."

Horsford said that Sandoval is an "upstanding citizen" and that he respects Clinger and Gansert, who served as the Assembly minority leader in 2009.

He vowed to show a "level of collegiality," but added he is concerned with the cuts to education.

"I will ask questions each and every day," Horsford said. "That is what I was elected to do."

Gansert, who did not attend Wednesday’s hearing, said in response to questions that she did not feel "at all" that anyone was rude to her Tuesday.

"I look forward to working with the Legislature as we examine the many budget and policy issues that we must address," Gansert said.

During the special session in February, then-Gov. Jim Gibbons ordered Clinger to return to his office after he felt Democratic legislators were being rude to him.

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