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Where is Democrats’ state spending plan?

The budget ball was put in the court of the Nevada Legislature’s majority Democrats more than two months ago. With no shot clock in this contest, they’re still in a four-corners offense, content to play for one last jumper in a 0-0 game.

If they put up a brick at the buzzer, they’ll take their chances in overtime.

Our take on this sorry display of stall ball: A hearty round of boos.

Carson City’s Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, and Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, have relentlessly criticized Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $5.8 billion spending plan for 2011-13. They say it cuts K-12 schools, higher education and social services too deeply, and that Gov. Sandoval has resorted to unacceptable revenue shifts and accounting tricks to stick with his no-new-taxes pledge.

And throughout their criticism, including the protests they’ve supported and their dog-and-pony public hearings and town halls dominated by government interests and tax consumers, Mr. Horsford and Mr. Oceguera have yet to offer their own proposal. They’ve made it clear that they want taxes raised despite nation-leading joblessness, but they absolutely will not bring any of their ideas forward for public debate.

Just as they did in 2009, the Democratic leadership is slowly developing a plan in secret, with the help of a select few insiders and power brokers. Just as they did in 2009, they will apply pressure to lawmakers behind closed doors to try to pick up the GOP votes they need to achieve the two-thirds supermajority required to pass tax increases and override Gov. Sandoval’s promised veto. “The process is going as it usually does,” Mr. Oceguera said last week.


If, in fact, the Legislature’s Democrats intend to reuse their 2009 playbook, they must have the budget rewritten and the tax increases needed to fund it passed just six weeks from now. That would give them enough time to override Gov. Sandoval’s veto before the regular session’s adjournment and avert a special session. Under this scenario, the public can expect barely more than a day to inspect and comment on the plan.


Gov. Sandoval has been derided by Democrats as inflexible and irrelevant for standing by the anti-tax promise that helped him win election by a near landslide in November’s election. But Mr. Horsford and Mr. Oceguera — who won election campaigning as fiscal conservatives — have been equally rigid in ignoring compromise overtures from the Assembly’s minority Republicans — who happen to represent the majority of the state’s voters, thanks to rampant gerrymandering.

Gov. Sandoval and the GOP lawmakers who support him are extremists for opposing tax increases, the public has been told. But the Democrats who won’t budge on top-heavy public schools, collective bargaining, and tort reforms are not?

Mr. Horsford and Mr. Oceguera need to start selling something other than doom and fear. That they’re so reluctant to present specific tax increases in a state awash with suffering businesses and struggling taxpayers says everything about their cynical strategy.

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