July 9, 2020 - 9:00 pm
Nevada lawmakers have convened in Carson City to concoct a plan to fill a $1.2 billion budget hole created when the coronavirus ripped across the landscape. Talk continues to heat up that tone-deaf majority Democrats — with the embers still radiating from the state’s smoldering economy — will attempt to jam through an ill-advised tax hike.
Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, could stop this outrage by indicating to legislative leaders that he will refuse to sign any bill which seeks to further burden Nevada’s private-sector workers and firms at a time of 25 percent unemployment and shuttering businesses. But to hear the governor tell it, he’s just a spectator nursing a cold one as he strains to get a glimpse of the action from the cheap seats.
“So we looked at all the possibilities of adjustments to some taxes that currently exist that wouldn’t have that ramp-up time that you could recognize revenue quickly,” he said about a potential tax increase. “But it’s gonna be up to the Legislature.” He went on to say that he had no idea what lawmakers might propose. “That remains to be seen, what leadership wants to do, what appetite there is. And I don’t want to guess as it relates to that. I’ll just wait and see what they come up with.”
As for the fact that Democrats will need at least one GOP vote in the state Senate to reach the two-thirds majority requirement for tax increases, Gov. Sisolak again threw up his hands. Senate Republicans are “gonna have to decide how important education is to them, if I can get somebody to step up and give me the votes necessary in order to pass some revenue,” he told the Review-Journal. “But that’s totally out of my control right now.”
Never mind that Republicans could — and should — pose a similar question to the governor and his fellow Democrats about their decision to prioritize the comfort of government workers over the state’s schoolchildren when it comes to the necessary budget adjustments, Gov. Sisolak sounds like an innocent bystander who just coincidently stumbled onto a gruesome crime scene.
To be fair, the governor and his staff did offer lawmakers a handful of timid money-saving proposals. It’s also true that a state chief executive is sometimes at the mercy of lawmakers when it comes to policy, even if his party controls the legislative branch. But a statesman uses his bully pulpit and the power of his office to advance his agenda by cajoling and convincing, persuading and maneuvering. It’s called politics. For this administration, however, the buck stops over there. Nevada voters might have other thoughts, however, if Gov. Sisolak puts his John Hancock on a tax increase.