Ron Knecht should do his job before politics

Maybe it’s just a time-management thing?

It’s clear state Controller Ron Knecht has the time to publish op-eds in newspapers around Nevada. He and his writing partner, Assistant Controller Geoff Lawrence, are regulars in the Nevada Appeal, writing on a variety of subjects, including their shared love of baseball.

It’s also clear Knecht has time to craft long, insulting emails to random constituents who’ve written to him, and then send more insulting material to journalists who wrote about the aforementioned insulting emails.

During the 2015 Legislature, Knecht found the time to craft an alternative state budget that was more developed (and less illegal) than the three-page offering from state Treasurer Dan Schwartz. Alas, the Legislature quickly rejected Knecht’s plan, which was balanced on the backs of local government and public employees.

After the Legislature adjourned — having passed a package of education reforms and a tax bill to pay for them — Knecht spent time trying to repeal the tax by voter referendum. (He was president of the PAC targeting the tax, the RIP Commerce Tax, Inc., and personally campaigned for the referendum, too.) The Nevada Supreme Court ruled the description written on his petition didn’t pass muster, and Knecht eventually gave up on the idea.

It seems the one thing Knecht doesn’t have time to do is the job that voters elected him to do back in 2014. A new state audit (requested by Knecht himself) reveals that the controller’s office is still doing a terrible job collecting on state debts, and recommends the governor’s office take over the job. (Problems with debt collection apparently go back at least 20 years, the audit found, long before Knecht arrived, although things have certainly not improved under his tenure.)

Knecht, you might recall, was once an employee of the Public Utilities Commission, but lost that job after managers contended he was engaging in political activities on state time. (Knecht was an elected member of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents at the time.) He denied wrongdoing, and said he was never given an explanation for his termination.

Knecht told the Review-Journal’s Sandra Chereb that he was fine with somebody else taking over the actual work of his office. “If the governor’s office can make it work better, that’s fine by us,” he said.

A curious response from a member of the party of personal responsibility. Shouldn’t he have said, “I will work day and night on this problem until it’s fixed, because that’s what taxpayers elected me to do!” Or is that conservative rhetoric just for the op-eds and not real life?

A deputy controller has warned that the state might have to write off debts labeled noncollectable, which could be more than $10 million, he said.

Here’s a random thought, one that might motivate the anti-tax Knecht to turn his rhetoric into reality: A good way to reduce the need for future tax increases might be to collect the money the state is already owed!

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