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LETTERS: Controller should weigh in on budget

To the editor:

Recently, I presented to the Nevada Legislature a state budget developed with some Assembly members, professionals and business people as an alternative to Gov. Sandoval’s proposal. Review-Journal political columnist Steve Sebelius, an aggressive tax-spend-regulate liberal, trashed that budget and me (“There’s no time to waste as tax debate heats up,” May 15 Review-Journal). No surprise.

Wrote Mr. Sebelius: “There’s nothing in [Ron] Knecht’s job description that requires him to weigh in on the budget, or even allows him to do so.” Tough. Hard-hitting. No nonsense. And completely false.

NRS 227.110(2) states: “The State Controller may recommend such plans as he or she deems expedient for the support of the public credit, for promoting frugality and economy, and for the better management and more perfect understanding of the fiscal affairs of the State.” Section 227.300 adds: “The State Controller shall give information to either house of the Legislature, whenever required, upon any subject relating to the fiscal affairs of the State, or touching any duty of his or her office.”

Did Mr. Sebelius miss these because he didn’t bother to look up the controller’s duties? Because he’s ignorant of the general charge of the office? Because he doesn’t care enough to even try to get it right? Probably all of those.

But he was present last summer when the Review-Journal editorial board interviewed me. At that meeting, I noted that the controller has a statutory charge to provide information that allows the public to determine whether their tax dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively. I said that I would make liberal use of those informational charges by, among other things, publishing a controller’s monthly report providing facts, data, analysis and proposals. We’ve published one report a month. The third one was our alternate budget, and it cited our statutory authority.

Maybe Mr. Sebelius just forgot that interview. Thus, he falsely attacks my being present at the hearing as “taking time off from [my] official duties.” If I were a statist progressive (like I used to be, a story for another day), no doubt he’d have praised my initiative, dedication, selflessness, etc.

He studiously ignored that we offered a compromise balanced budget that secures the education and other public-service values of Nevadans, with reforms and cost savings via judicious line-item cuts. It also requires Nevada’s well-paid local government employees to come halfway to parity with state and private employees by beginning to contribute very modestly to their generous pensions.

And it does not require new or increased taxes, meaning it needs fewer votes to pass than any other proposal on the table.

But none of that suits Mr. Sebelius’ politics. So he took the low road.



The writer is controller for the state of Nevada.


To the editor:

Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, says he knew nothing about the deflated footballs used in the AFC Championship Game (“Deflate-gate report: ‘Probable’ that Patriots violated rules, Brady knew,” May 7 Review-Journal). The Wells report confirmed this. Coach Bill Belichick said he knew nothing about the deflated footballs, and the Wells report confirmed that. The Wells report said that it is “more probable than not” that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was aware of the deflated footballs.

“More probable than not” is not exactly a convincing legal term and certainly would not stand in a court of law. Mr. Kraft knew nothing, yet was fined $1 million. Mr. Belichick knew nothing and was fined two draft picks. Mr. Brady might have known something and was handed a four-game suspension.

This whole affair is nothing more than a petty dictator — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell — trying to make up for the bad decisions he made during the past year or so with players who actually did something illegal, such as beating up a girlfriend on an elevator and being caught on camera. Note that the game officials (hired by Mr. Goodell) handle the footballs between every play, yet none of them detected an underinflated ball. If they could not tell the ball was underinflated, that condition could not have been much help to Mr. Brady.

This whole affair stinks to high heaven and is certainly not a feather in Mr. Goodell’s cap.



Caesars’ unpaid pensions

To the editor:

Caesars Entertainment says it cannot pay the pensions of 63 retired employees because the pension debt has been discharged in bankruptcy (“Caesars official says company can’t fund some pension payouts,” March 27 Review-Journal). Caesars also says that it had no choice in this matter and that the debt was required to be discharged by bankruptcy law and the bankruptcy court.

I will accept Caesars’ statement of the law as correct. However, there is no law that prohibits a debtor from voluntarily reviving and assuming a discharged debt after bankruptcy. Debtors sometimes do this because they feel a moral obligation to pay the discharged debt, even though it’s no longer legally enforceable. Therefore, Caesars could, if it wished, voluntarily re-assume this debt and pay the pensions to its retired employees after it completes bankruptcy. It would be the morally right thing to do to pay these pensions.

I ask the Review-Journal to continue to follow this story and inform the public about whether Caesars does the right thing. If the company does not pay these pensions, I will be inclined to stop patronizing its businesses.



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