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EDITORIAL: Governor’s veto pen saves Nevada taxpayers

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s veto pen may prove the most significant feature of the 2017 legislative session.

Majority Democrats accomplished virtually nothing during the 120-day gathering in Carson City except to pepper spray the concepts of goodwill and compromise to promote petty partisanship. Rather than work toward consensus, Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, both Las Vegas Democrats, preferred to waste time animating the far left by emphasizing bills that had no chance of getting past Gov. Sandoval, a Republican.

The fact that a symbolic resolution in support of the long-defunct Equal Rights Amendment represents one of the more memorable achievements of the session for Democrats sums it up quite neatly.

But in the end, the governor’s veto power saved Nevadans from all manner of progressive nonsense. To highlight just a few examples:

— Senate Bill 384, which would have made secret certain information regarding public employee pensions. This was among the worst bills to surface in Carson City in the past decade, a full assault on government transparency and accountability, yet it sailed through both houses on the strength of Democratic support. Gov. Sandoval killed it on Friday.

— Senate Bill 356, another sop to government unions intended to roll back modest collective bargaining reforms passed two years ago to ensure that expired contracts don’t automatically “roll over.” It met a swift veto.

— Senate Bill 469, an effort to allow public-sector labor groups to raid local government “ending-fund balances” at the expense of taxpayers. This measure would have been a fiscal disaster for cities and counties, which are already struggling with soaring labor costs. It expired at the hands of the governor late last week.

— Assembly Bill 154, another attempt to reward Big Labor and punish taxpayers by mandating higher costs for certain education construction projects. In his veto explanation, the governor noted that the bill would have scuttled a reasonable compromise worked out in 2015.

— Assembly Bill 271, which, among other things, would have essentially forced taxpayers to foot the bill when workers for public-sector unions were conducting union business. This shameless measure died on the governor’s desk.

Gov. Sandoval’s final term ends in January 2019. Make no mistake, Democrats will resuscitate all these destructive proposals — and many, many more — if they maintain control of the Legislature and gain the governor’s mansion in the 2018 elections. Voters should ponder whether they can afford — literally and figuratively — to allow dogmatic progressives to run Nevada without a safety net.

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