Las Vegas Sun

November 16, 2018

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Editorial: Bragging rights trump need

Hanging over the state Legislature is the long shadow of the Gridlock Governor.

Gov. Jim Gibbons has earned that moniker for putting his simplistic campaign vow to not increase fees or taxes ahead of the state's looming transportation crisis.

A task force appointed in 2005 by then-Gov. Kenny Guinn made it clear that pervasive gridlock will define the state's major roads within 10 years unless the governor and Legislature can agree on a plan to overcome a $3.8 billion deficit in the highway fund.

Perhaps the Legislature's highest priority this session is to reach agreement on a long-term method for raising that kind of money. Naturally, increased fees and taxes on highway- and vehicle-related services are under discussion.

But here is where a line from "The Wasteland" by T.S. Eliot comes to mind: "Between the idea and the reality ... falls the shadow."

This would be the one cast by the Gridlock Governor. At a time when the Legislature is desperate to bolster the highway fund, Gibbons wants to cut it - so he can brag that even fees prompted by federal action were not raised .

At issue is the federal government's Real ID program, a mandate to states that driver's licenses follow uniform guidelines to make them more secure. Ginny Lewis, director of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, said the program will cost $528,000 over the next two years. Assembly Bill 582, requested by the Gibbons administration, would take that money from the highway fund rather than add 30 cents to the fee people pay for their licenses.

Production costs for licenses have traditionally been paid by drivers. Lewis says she cannot recall when the costs came from any other source. But Gibbons has his campaign rhetoric to safeguard, even if it means culling money from a critical account facing a staggering deficit.

The Legislature should step into the light and vote no on this preposterous bill.