A cynical ploy

For all the disdain and derision they’ve hissed toward Gov. Jim Gibbons over the state budget, Nevada’s legislative Democrats have been woefully lacking when it comes to offering alternatives to his proposed spending plan.

The strategy seems to be to continue hammering away at the governor in hopes of crippling him irreparably heading into the 2010 election, all the while mouthing platitudes designed to hoodwink taxpayers into believing Democrats actually have a specific, competing vision on how to deal with plummeting state revenues.

The game continued on Thursday, as Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, trotted out in front of the cameras for another round.

The governor’s $6.2 billion, 2009-11 budget — which is essentially flat from the current biennium, but less than the $8 billion Democrats would like to spend — is “shortsighted” and was drafted in a “back room,” they wailed.

“If it’s not happening elsewhere, we will govern,” Ms. Buckley said about the Legislature, where Democrats control both chambers.

But as usual, it was the same old empty rhetoric.

Ms. Buckley and Mr. Horsford offered no real plan, saying only that they’ll crack down on tax cheats, expand the reserve fund and hold hearings — yippee! — to produce an alternative to the governor’s budget by March 30.

How do they propose to pay for their budget, which no doubt will be much more generous than Gov. Gibbons’ blueprint?

Who knows? Neither would acknowledge they favor raising taxes. To do so would hand Republicans ammunition for the next election cycle.

Instead, they said they’ll unveil a revenue plan by mid-April.

We’re counting down the days.

In reality, Mr. Horsford and Ms. Buckley have had more than a year to craft an alternative spending or revenue plan. They have chosen not to do so for political reasons, hoping in part that President Obama will hand the state hundreds of millions of dollars in “free money” that will allow them to delay their crusade for higher taxes, thus protecting their legislative majorities and giving them the upper hand for redistricting in 2011.

It’s a cynical ploy. But cynical ploys have a way of working wonders in politics.

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