The conventional wisdom, especially for those on the Left, is that Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval has “boxed himself in” by running on a “no new taxes” platform, getting elected on that platform, and now, get this, actually honoring his campaign pledge.
But Sandoval isn’t boxed in at all; not by a long shot.
To the contrary, he has a mandate from voters to balance Nevada’s budget without raising taxes or fees (same things/different names). State legislators, on the other hand, who did NOT run on platforms to raise this tax or that fee – including renewal of those “temporary” tax and fee increase from the last session – have no mandate from voters whatsoever to raise any taxes or any fees.
So rather than being boxed in, Sandoval is in a strong position to force legislators to finally think outside the box. With tax hikes off the table, the Legislature will be forced to set spending priorities, eliminate sacred cows, ax pet projects, and reduce state government down to only its bare, core, essential services.
Thanks to Sandoval running on a specific platform and keeping his word after his election, the debate in Carson City this upcoming session is going to change dramatically.
Instead of legislators sitting around adding all kinds of new government goodies to the taxpayers’ shopping cart and then deciding which taxes to raise to pay for it all, the Legislature is going to be given a set amount to spend – an “allowance” – and the discussion next year will now be “Do we want this or that…because we can’t have both?”
So Sandoval’s not the one who’s boxed in; it’s the Legislature.
Of course, legislators – mostly Democrats, but a few Republicans – could say, “Screw you, Gov. Sandoval. We’re going to raise taxes anyway, and if you veto our tax increases, we’ll override your veto.”
To which Gov. Sandoval, who would love to work with a Republican-majority Legislature in the 2013 session instead of a Democrat-majority Legislature, should respond, doing his best Clint Eastwood impression, “Go ahead; make…my…day.”
But it doesn’t have to come down to that.
If Gov. Sandoval keeps his word on taxes and fees – and I think he will – Republicans in the Legislature now have enough seats to keep any tax or fee increases from ever reaching the governor’s desk. Democrats cannot raise taxes or override a gubernatorial veto without at least three Republican votes in the state senate and one in the state Assembly.
The power to stop any and all tax hikes rests entirely with the GOP.
If Republicans want to win the majority in both houses of the Legislature in 2012, and thus earn the opportunity to put Nevada on a different, new and better path to economic recovery and prosperity, they better unite and stick together in 2011 to support Gov. Sandoval by blocking any and all efforts by the Democrats to increase taxes or fees. If they can’t do that, they don’t deserve to become the majority party.
Any Republican legislator who votes against Gov. Sandoval and for a tax or fee increase should be recalled and/or primaried. And the Republican Party central committees, at both the state and county levels, ought to officially inform their GOP legislators of exactly that BEFORE the session starts.
It’s time to stop the appeasement. It’s time to stop rolling over. It’s time to get serious.
Republican legislators are either with us or against us. They’re either with Nevada’s taxpaying businesses and citizens or they’re with our tax hiking opponents. It’s time to choose sides. Which side will YOUR Republican legislator be on?