Monthly Archive: March 2015

Come On In, The Kitchen Water Is Fine

“If you can’t stand the heat,

get out of the kitchen.”

Harry S. Truman 

Nevadans should thank Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, for stepping up to the table yesterday at a press conference with Assembly Republicans to call for “…a proposal to allow us to achieve a pathway to achieve Governor Sandoval’s vision through a broad consensus of all Nevadans.” It took a lot for the Carson Valley arch-conservative to say that the “Governor’s enthusiasm for this vision [for education] was contagious and is shared by every Republican in Nevada.”

This will perhaps make negotiations on Brian Sandoval’s budget go a little easier with the coalition of conservative Constitutional officers and Assembly Republicans who have proposed what some have called their own “Big Government” budget of $6.92 billion dollars, an amount just barely below the $7.31 billion recommended by the Governor.

Of course we should note that Assemblyman Wheeler says it all can be done without raising any taxes. That assumption will no doubt be analyzed and challenged, should the plan be drafted into bill form. Nevertheless, sign-off on the Governor’s vision and the intent to cooperate were offered. Good.

The important takeaways from yesterday’s press gathering are that Wheeler and his fellow Tax Pledge-signing conservatives have (1) recommended a 25.3% increase over the Governor’s recommended budget of $5.84 billion for the last 2011-2013 biennium and (2) expressed a willingness to place their ideas (i.e., their bigger-than-last-cycle budget) on the negotiating table.

Does coming to the table mean they will stay there for the negotiations with the Governor and legislative leadership at the final “banquet budget” discussion during the end game of this legislative session? It would be rude for them to leave, now that they have willingly arrived and put their best foot forward. I do hope they don’t embarrass themselves–or the state–by storming off over one thing or another, hurting the chances of Republicans to achieve a hard-fought successful session.

Alas, we have seen them do it before, so… only time will tell.

State Controller Ron Knecht, who helped craft the “conservative” budget plan, said yesterday, “The plan is our attempt to move the process forward by providing a work-in-progress budget between our current spending and the Governor’s proposed budget.”

If you’re not aware of his job duties, this new-to-the-office Constitutional officer is responsible for administering the state’s accounting system. Notably, Knecht recently presented his own department budget to the Ways and Means (i.e., money) Committee. The Controller’s budget included additional staffing levels and mirrored the Governor’s money recommendations, proving that it’s a lot easier to talk about “cutting government expenses” than it is to actually do so.

The Controller, who is credited with putting the alternative budget proposal together, said yesterday’s statement was all about offering something “to negotiate about.” I’ll take Ron at his word, and so should the 10 or so conservative Assembly Republicans who flanked him on the steps of the Legislature yesterday afternoon.

Having a place at the Legislative table is an opportunity and honor few Nevadans ever enjoy. Coming into the proverbial kitchen to negotiate on behalf of your fellow Nevada Republicans–even if you came late and sort of invited yourselfis an immense responsibility.

I’m sure Ron Knecht, Jim Wheeler, and Michele Fiore, who said yesterday on Nevada Newsmakers that she believes “new revenues must be found,” are pleased at being afforded a place at the negotiating table. But… there’s a lot more to getting there than just stepping across the threshold with a smile. You next need to take a seat, listen, and behave like a willing partner. You need to bring more than a “hell no” to what’s being served up.

We have a historic once-in-a-legislative-lifetime opportunity to negotiate, govern and lead. We need to stay in the kitchen even when things get heated.

“Give ‘Em Hell Harry” Truman was right. The buck does stop here. And funding a final budget that delivers fundamental educational reforms is something we have all been called to the Carson City table to do.

Let’s dig in.