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July 6, 2015

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Expect Sandoval to flex his newfound political capital on his anti-tax pledge

Lawmakers are less apt in anti-government age to buck the popular one


Justin M. Bowen

Brian Sandoval enters the Red Rock Resort ballroom holding his daughter Madeline’s hand after it was announced he defeated Rory Reid for governor Tuesday.

If passing a state budget were just about counting yeas and nays, Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval’s opposition to taxes wouldn’t be a factor in the 2011 Legislature. After all, it takes support from two-thirds of lawmakers to pass a tax hike — the same number it takes to override a governor’s veto.

But Sandoval will be a key player in getting the upcoming budget passed because of his landslide victory last week and reservoir of political capital that brought him.

Sandoval’s key position in the budget process will be a shift from the current administration, in which Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons took a laissez faire approach. Gibbons proposed a budget, and then essentially walked away, not weighing in until lawmakers passed a bill and sent it his direction.

With Sandoval assuming office after campaigning on a no-new-taxes pledge, some have been tempted to believe the same logic that applied during the Gibbons years would apply in the 2011 Legislative session.

“The governor is irrelevant in this process,” Danny Thompson, executive director of the AFL-CIO, told the Associated Press in September, when Sandoval and Democrat Rory Reid were promising not to raise taxes.

Legislators, Thompson said, “are the people who will make these decisions.”

Sandoval, however, is no Gibbons. And 2011 is not 2009.

After all, the recent election brought a national, if not statewide, conservative wave that makes taxes and government spending even more radioactive.

Sandoval defeated Reid by 11 points and garnered the most votes of any Nevada candidate in a contested race this year. The upshot is political capital that Sandoval’s aides say he will use to advocate for his spending plan.

That is bad news for those who counted on running an end around Sandoval’s no-new-tax pledge by assembling the necessary votes in the Legislature — advocates of K-12, higher education, social services and cultural affairs, for example.

Moderate Republicans — the few left — will be loath to oppose a popular governor, particularly when the electorate seems to be feeling its anti-government mojo. Some conservative Democrats will not be automatic votes to increase spending, especially after a well-funded incumbent, Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, was handily defeated by a Republican who signed an anti-tax pledge.

Add to the mix new leadership for both Democrats and Republicans in the Assembly and for Senate Republicans and 22 freshman lawmakers, many of whom will be trying to find someone to follow.

While Gibbons wasn’t present during the 2009 session, Sandoval appears to be taking the opposite approach. His team includes advisers of former Gov. Kenny Guinn, who took an active role when legislatures were in session.

Sandoval will be a forceful advocate for his budget, which won’t increase taxes, his aides said.

On Tuesday, after a 1 1/2-hour meeting with state budget Director Andrew Clinger, Sandoval stood by his campaign promise.

“The numbers look very good in terms of what can be done,” Sandoval said. He avoided specifics about his approach.

“I’m not going to stick with certain numbers,” he said. “But as I said candidly throughout the campaign, there are going to be reductions.”

Republicans gained a seat in the Nevada Senate in the election, cutting into Democrats’ upper house majority, and two seats in the Assembly, breaking Democrats’ two-thirds advantage.

Bill Raggio

Bill Raggio

Republican senators also ousted longtime Senate leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, in part for his endorsement of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid but also because he was perceived as soft on taxes. Raggio has publicly said that he believes extending the 2009 taxes, scheduled to sunset in June, would be necessary to balance the budget.

But Raggio has downplayed speculation that he and other Republican senators could break off from the majority to support a tax increase.

Raggio called Sandoval “the most relevant” when it comes to the budget. “He’s the new governor. He comes in without any political baggage. He has a clear opportunity to lead,” he said.

“The makeup now, of both Republican caucuses, is pretty well committed to support this governor,” he said. “Their votes are needed to override a veto. I don’t think there’s a mind-set, in the present makeup of caucuses, to even think about overriding a veto.”

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, who unsuccessfully challenged Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, for the leadership of the Republican caucus, said his colleagues will look to Sandoval for leadership.

“The caucus will most likely take its cue from the governor-elect,” Hambrick said. “We’re there to support the governor.”

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  1. Governor-elect Sandoval decisions on the budget deficit will involve rising taxes? Right? Wrong? The realities, we have a huge budget deficit in the State of Nevada. Two choices, raise taxes, or cut spending in areas of K-12, higher education, social services and cultural affairs.

    Before we continue the spending levels in K-12 and higher education we must fix the problems with student drop-outs, learning and grade evaluations, class sizes, teacher involvement and quality of learning, student involvement, and challenging students with meaningful studies and class courses.

    I see the new governor raising taxes. No way around this issue. We all will have to pay more, no doubt. We cannot cut spending in the core areas and expect to balance the state budget without hurting or eliminating critical services and departments. The question, which revenue area will the governor propose to raise taxes?

  2. Clark County will pay a hefty price for state-level failures.

    Many cuts in programs and services now will cost more money later, but people can't see the forest for the trees.
    Cause & effect means nothing to "fiscal conservatives".

    Save a buck now, pay 5 later...
    Sound strategy, or sheer folly???

  3. We can make a budget without raising taxes. We need to reform the way we run the government, reform the way we do the budget, sell off non-essential government assets and sweep those funds, use private management where applicable, lease the highways for cash upfront (and lower the gas tax, refill the rainy day fund, and use whatever surplus is left to give cash back to Nevada residents).

    By creating smarter, productive, efficient government that focuses on the needs of the people, rather than special interests, we can save a buck now and save a buck later...

  4. PS, did you know we actually increased the basic support per pupil during the recession? WHY? Increasing spending in public education does not produce results.

    We also spend money ineffectively. $280 million a biennium goes to class size reduction - a policy that most education researchers agree produces no significant changes in student achievement. In fact, according to Sanford University professor Eric Hanushek 85 percent of studies on class size reduction show that a) nothing happens or b) students are harmed by it (exposing kids to subpar teachers actually hurts achievement).

    We also spend a substantial sum on bonuses that having nothing to do with student achievement including step increases outside of 5 years and bonuses for MA degrees. Having an MA degree DOES NOTHING for student achievement.

    CCSD also spent several hundred million dollars building and completing several schools while the recession was going on. We can save several hundred million a year on debt repayment alone by encouraging charter schools to form.

    Finally, Nevada can save billions of dollars in the future by creating a universal tuition tax credit program allowing parents to get tax credits for private school tuition. To aid low-income kids we can allow corporations and citizens to get a dollar for dollar tax credit on donations made to charities which create scholarships for low-income children.

    BTW, 10 out of 11 random assignment studies show that student improvement and or graduation rates improve with parental choice programs like vouchers and tax credits.

  5. What Pat means is, CHOP! CHOP! CHOP!!!

    I especially like Pat's "lease the highways" and "sell off non-essential Government assets" idear's...

    Toll Roads and idiotic Real estate deals.
    Maybe we could sell the Grand Canyon and put in a hydroelectric dam.

    What the Libertarians want is NO GOVERNMENT, NO TAXES...
    Hey Pat, did you ever meet Gordon Kahl???

  6. ...and now, the Patrick R. Gibbons Anti-Public-Education Rant!

    Debunked a thousand times over, but Pat is NO QUITTER!!!

  7. Once again, Patrick R. Gibbons fails to mention that he is paid to post his opinions by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a Right-Wing organization dedicated to reducing services to taxpayers and quality of life to Nevadans if it means that big business must paty their fair share.

    Nice try, Patrick, but we know you are paid to post here.

  8. Gmag,

    To prove someone wrong, you have to actually prove them wrong. Your platitudes do nothing of the sort.

    Mr. Hilton,

    The same goes to you. Btw, your information is out of date, but that doesn't matter. Who employs who does not change facts or arguments. If you can win an argument on the facts alone and have to stoop to logical fallacies (this argument can be thrown both ways and we'll get nowhere) such as this, well, it can only mean that you don't have much ground to stand on anyway.

    Both of you, please try again...with facts and counterpoints this time.

  9. Indiana earned $3.85 billion for a 40 year lease on 1 highway. We've got 2. One leading to L.A. and one to San Fran. Both major ports. I-15 can be crossed without gassing up, which means truckers can use the road free of charge.

    Leasing the highways allows us to take them off the books. Private companies are then responsible for maintain the road to standards set by the state legislature and are free to set prices (like anything prices will be based on demand). This will allow us to use congestion pricing to reduce congestion and therby reduce environmental pollutants.

    If we made $3.85 billion on top of other reforms we can A) fill in the budget gap, b) refill the rainy day fund and c) refund taxpayers. We could also reduce Nevada's notoriously high gas tax to reflect the fact that highway maintenance is no longer paid for by the gas tax but by direct user fees.

    In other words, leasing the state highways could allow us to maintain existing spending levels WITHOUT RAISING TAXES and potentially throwing thousands of Nevadans and retarding our economic growth"

    You guys do realize that in order to meet agency requests we need a 59 percent tax hike -- double the last two tax hikes combined. How exactly do you plan on 1) making this happen and 2) making this happen without destroying Nevada's economy?

  10. More ideas for the budget without raising taxes

  11. It will be interesting to finally see a budget proposal by Mr. Sandoval since we have been asking for one for a year from him.

    How is he going to balance a budget shortfall of 50%?

    Will he do like the present governor did and not raise taxes but raise "Fees" by millions of dollars?

    There are cuts that can be made but after a year of asking Mr. Sandoval never would tell us what those cuts are. Now that he has been elected to office he will have to come clean with his plan.

    Hopefully he has a plan or this is going to be one long session this time around.

  12. Vegavske,

    you do realize that the agency requested buget is $1.8 billion larger than our current general fund budget and $1.4 billion larger than our pre-cut biennial budget? Even Governor Gibbons 10% cut budget is larger than our pre cut budget.

    by the way, the shortfall is not 50%, the Las Vegas Sun royally screwed the pooch on that.

  13. NLVIND

    There are toll booths in LA, and incidentally, the traffic is fairly smooth on those highways, especially in comparison to the "free" ways.

    The tolls would not deter road going tourists or trucking. Furthermore, the current way of financing road construction and maintenance is expensive and ineffective - thus the sunk cost of the highway is expensive and ineffective. Reducing the burden of that sunk cost will allow us to devote resources to other highly valued uses or reduce taxes allowing residents and tourists to spend their money on other highly valued resources.

  14. Patrick, you and the Right Wing group that employs you to post here, NPRI, don't get it. We don't want to pay more than once to use OUR roads.

    Do you get paid per post or does NPRI pay you per letter?

  15. Hopefully, Governor-elect Brian Sandoval will have the courage to spare Nevadans any further financial pain, personal loss, and family struggles by taking advantage of this opportunity:

    One revenue resource NO ONE in Nevada wants to talk about, publish, or have on the news, is the sustainable potential tax revenue that the Nevada BROTHEL INDUSTRY offered (to the amazing tune of $1 billion dollars + a year) last February's Nevada's State Legislature Meeting!!!! What???

    All these budget cuts could have been avoided! What?

    At least One BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR sustainable tax revenue.

    Does it really matter to you WHERE lawmakers get the money??? Money is green! Be honest!

    All of the sudden, several lawmakers zipped their pants, a few more got religion, some more grew morals, and well, the rest just couldn't bear to tell anyone that it was even offered for their consideration, because, well, it is about S-E-X. The one thing no one talks about.

    Why are millions of people and families suffering today in Nevada?

    Because lawmakers just could not bring themselves to the point of OPENLY doing any kind of negoitating with the legal/legitimate brothel/sexual industry.

    Have YOU suffered enough? Was it worth it? Do you want our lawmakers/representatives to revisit this offer and address giving Nevada a sustainable, legal revenue? Then contact them and tell them.

    You may not condone, practice, or have anything to do with such an industry, but, you as a taxpayer and citizen of Nevada have a right to be heard and expect your representative(s) to listen and act on your and others like you behalves.

    Let's put an end to Nevada's budget cuts and allow taxation of the brothel/sexual industry for sustainable revenues for Nevada's coffers!

  16. @star...

    One billion dollars a year in taxes ?
    I don't think so...