Tax plans this soon? Not a chance

Brian Sandoval says the specifics on his spending priorities are coming. Rory Reid, who’s almost ready to formalize his run for Nevada’s top office, promises to present his vision for state government soon.

Given the gravity of Nevada’s economic woes, the electorate deserves depth and detail in next year’s gubernatorial campaign. Sandoval, the Republican former attorney general, and Reid, the Democratic Clark County Commission chairman, say they’ll be happy to talk about the state’s budget challenges.

So can we expect either of them to unveil $3 billion in proposed tax hikes by December? Or at least $2 billion in cuts? Not a chance.

They’re not stupid. Sandoval will talk himself up as a fiscal conservative, and Reid will utter the words “revenue restructuring” so many times between now and November 2010 that pundits will think he’s Barbara Buckley.

Both will denounce GOP Gov. Jim Gibbons as rigid and irrelevant, but neither will take the opposite position on Gibbons’ defining issue: tax increases. Gibbons has built a career opposing them. Politicians lose elections promising them.

However, the reason Sandoval and Reid won’t talk about tax hikes has as much to do with political reality as it does with political expedience.

In case anyone has forgotten the most important procedural lesson of the 2009 Legislature, it’s that the governor’s position on tax increases really doesn’t matter.

It takes a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and the Assembly to pass tax increases. That same two-thirds majority can override a gubernatorial veto.

Which is exactly what happened in Carson City in May. And now a few dozen tax-hiking legislative Democrats, many of whom ran as fiscal conservatives in 2006 and 2008, will have to persuade duped, recession-fatigued voters to send them back to the Capitol for another round of record-breaking revenue enhancements.

Make no mistake, many of those tax hikers are vulnerable, and some of them will lose in 2010.

So with unemployment likely to approach 15 percent next year and every form of tax revenue dropping through the floor, why would Sandoval or Reid even hint that they’d support tax hikes as a last resort when there’s a good chance the 2011 Legislature won’t have the votes to get the increases to the governor’s desk in the first place?

And why would Reid jump the gun on his “revenue restructuring” plan if there’s a good chance his father, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, might come through with another debt-funded state government bailout (assuming he wins re-election himself)?

Will the governor’s race be less than honest? Of course — with the exception of Gibbons’ ongoing vow to veto tax increases. There will be lots of town halls, lots of talk about leadership, about “fixing” the economy and improving Nevadans’ educational opportunities and quality of life. There will be little talk about how to pay for it all. That will come after the election. It’s not right, but that’s the way politics works.

But for all the attention that will be lavished on the gubernatorial campaign, it’s the legislative races that will set the fiscal course of state government.

— — —

Speaking of the Legislature, the 2011 session could include a key figure in this year’s UNLV diversity debacle: Lucy Flores.

Flores, you’ll recall, was the unauthorized lobbyist sent before the Assembly Education Committee by the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion to urge passage of a “comprehensive multicultural education curriculum” in grades 2 through 12.

The discovery of Flores’ activities brought attention to the overreaching work of political correctness champion Christine Clark, who stepped down as UNLV’s vice president of diversity and inclusion a few months ago, and was the first firm proof of the lack of institutional oversight and accountability from then-UNLV President David Ashley, who lost his job this summer.

Now Flores is running for the Assembly, seeking the District 28 seat being vacated by Democrat Mo Denis, who wants a promotion to the state Senate.

Flores, in her final year of studies at Boyd Law School, might face a primary challenge from Marco Rauda, a former Democratic Party organizer who’s now Nevada director of Democracia Ahora, a group focused on making Latinos more active in politics.

If Flores makes it to the November 2010 ballot, she’ll win. Only one other Assembly district has fewer registered voters than District 28, which stretches north and east of downtown Las Vegas — and almost 6,800 of the 10,000 or so voters are registered Democrats, according to the secretary of state’s office.

For an example of what kind of philosophy Flores might bring to Carson City, of what might guide her in voting on issues relating to public schools, higher education and welfare programs, please visit the Web link referenced in the gray box at left. There, you will find video footage of Flores’ seven minutes of testimony before lawmakers in support of making children spend more class time on “the histories of oppression,” “self-affirmation” and “global inclusiveness,” and, by extension, less time on math, reading, writing and science. (The legislation died.)

Flores clearly is a very bright woman, but this video is proof that UNLV could offer political correctness classes for foreign language credit. Her talking points are about as intelligible as that rambling pageant answer from Miss South Carolina Teen USA, made famous by YouTube. It’s mind-numbing stuff.

There’s nothing wrong with diversity. There’s nothing wrong with teaching all children about history’s most important minority figures. But is there no limit to the nonsense the educational elite want to force down our throats?

We might find out if Flores is elected to the Assembly.

Glenn Cook (gcook@reviewjournal.com) is a Review-Journal editorial writer.

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