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Blame guv, not 120-day session for budget slam-and-jam

Freshman Republican Assemblymen Erv Nelson and Chris Edwards appeared on a local PBS community affairs television show recently and advocated for annual sessions of the Nevada Legislature.

As if these people don’t already do enough damage every OTHER year!

The reason, according to the pair, is that 120 days is supposedly not enough time to digest the budget and various tax hike proposals. But the shortness of time in 2015 had nothing whatsoever to do with the 120-day session. The main reason is that Gov. Brian Sandoval hid his budget plan and tax hike proposals until his state-of-the-state address at the end of January.

And make no mistake; there was no excuse for such a delay.

Leading up to the 2015 session, Sandoval had already been governor for four years. And unlike legislators, his is a full-time job with a full-time army of taxpayer-funded number-crunchers and bean-counters. There is absolutely no reason why the governor couldn’t have released his plans during his 2014 re-election campaign rather than almost three months after it.

Indeed, Sandoval didn’t even face a viable, credible political opponent in the election to worry about. Democrats ended up nominating a standard bearer who lost in the primary to “None of the above”! The governor essentially phoned it in.

No, the decision to hide his budget and tax hike plans was with the 120-day session limit in mind, and for the sole purpose of shortening the amount of time the opposition would have to coalesce.

Not that the Republican majority in the Assembly was blameless. Everyone and their uncle knew Sandoval’s original gross receipts tax proposal was DOA in the lower house as soon as the governor announced it. But instead of publicly saying so then and there, the hapless GOP “leaders” went through the charade of being “deliberative.”

Thus, the governor’s original plan wasn’t ultimately rejected until May, as the session was winding down and legislators began focusing more on how to avoid staying in Carson City for a special session than on good, fiscal policy.

So yes, by the time the governor’s Plan B mutant tax hike – combining the worst of all the tax hike proposals into one omnibus bill – finally was set before legislators, time was running out. Rules were suspended. Slam-and-jam time, baby!

So yes, the time to consider the final budget and tax hike plan was short. But not because of anything that allowing these people to meet every year would fix. The true fix would be for the governor to disclose his/her policy plans during the campaign season, introduce his/her budget much earlier before the start of the session, and for legislators to hit the ground running on Day 1 instead of Day 118.

So let it be written; so let it be done.

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach and the publisher of www.NevadaNewsandViews.com. He personally blogs at www.MuthsTruths.com

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