(Chuck Muth) – This is my 15th legislative session since I started “doing politics” full-time. And as a conservative, not one has ever ended without major disappointment.
And this one will be no different.
Today is the last day of the regular session. And we still don’t know if we’re gonna go into overtime or not. We’ll know at midnight tonight…hopefully after the Golden Knights go up 2-0 in the Stanley Cup finals.
Go Knights, Go!
But back to less important matters…
Again, we won’t know until tonight what’s going to happen. Negotiations are ongoing. There’s still time for a miracle. But the gut punch is probably going to be over the Opportunity Scholarship program.
I’m going to give you my thoughts as an outside observer, and if I get any of this wrong, I’ll correct the record in subsequent columns.
First, understand what Opportunity Scholarships are and how they came to be.
Democrats are captives of the teachers’ unions. And teachers’ unions hate school choice – including public charter schools – with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.
Indeed, some would commit Hari-kari before giving little dark-skinned kids in low-income families the ability to escape Nevada’s failure factories. So when I say killing Opportunity Scholarships is their “hill to die for,” I almost mean that literally.
The reason we even have what little we do is because Opportunity Scholarships were the “compromise” position in a past session when then-Gov. Steve Sisolak and legislative Dems killed Education Savings Accounts (ESA).
And the only reason we don’t have ESA’s is because former Gov. Brian Sandoval refused to properly fund them when he had the chance in the October 2016 special session – to approve the Raiders stadium – before Republicans lost their majority in both houses the following month.
And yes, as a reminder, we lost both legislative houses thanks to Sandoval’s largest tax hike in state history in the 2015 session, with aid and comfort from a couple dozen tax-hiking RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).
Anyway…Sisolak was elected governor in 2016, along with Democrats re-taking control of both the State Senate and Assembly.
And the compromise reached was that ESAs would be replaced with a comparatively small amount for Opportunity Scholarships – which give corporations certain tax reductions in return for donating money to the program.
But as is their wont, Democrats wrote the bill in such a way that the amount of money set aside for Opportunity Scholarships would automatically drop each year until it was zeroed out.
Our hope at the beginning of this session was that Opportunity Scholarships not only wouldn’t be reduced this year but would increase from around $7 million to $25 million.
But racist Democrats – who only want private school choice for wealthy white people – dug in their heels and chained themselves to a tree outside the Legislature. The teachers’ unions want the program killed and – damn it – that’s just what the D’s are gonna do.
Screw the kids is their default position…always.
But newly-elected Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo took ‘em on.
He proposed an expansion of Opportunity Scholarships in his State of the State address in January.
He introduced a bill to expand Opportunity Scholarships.
He testified before the Legislature in support of expansion.
He did public forums and press interviews fighting for them.
He even vetoed one of the budget bills trying to get the D’s to move off the dime.
But the Democrats” won’t budge.
And let’s acknowledge the political reality here…which we all knew going in, even though hope sprung eternal.
The Democrats have 41 seats in the Legislature. Republicans have just 22 plus Gov. Lombardo. In the Assembly, Democrats have 28 seats – a veto-proof majority. In the Senate, Democrats have 13 seats – just one seat away from a super-majority.
And we all know, from painful experience, how easy it is for Democrats to peel off one or more Republicans to stab us in the back and give the D’s what they want.
Indeed, as we learned in 2015, it’s not enough for Republicans to have a majority. We need a CONSERVATIVE majority – and we just don’t have it. Of the 22 GOP legislators, Gov. Lombardo probably only has two tough conservatives in the Senate and three in the Assembly.
And the two GOP caucus leaders ain’t among them.
Which brings me to the last remaining budget bill that, as of press time, has yet to be voted on…
That last bill – which funds government construction projects – requires a 2/3 super-majority vote for approval. Democrats have it in the Assembly but are one vote shy in the Senate.
So instead of sitting back and forcing the governor to do their dirty work, Senate Republicans have the power to play hardball and not move that budget bill until current Opportunity Scholarship funding is restored.
As Clint Eastwood said in “The Outlaw Josie Wales” …
“Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. ‘Cause if you lose your head and you give up, then you neither live nor win.”
But don’t hold your breath waiting.
Senate Republicans don’t play hardball. They play whiffle ball. And they’re perfectly content to let Gov. Lombardo take the fall rather than fight like honey badgers for our kids.
Useless as teats on a bull.
Alas, as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once put it, “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have.”
Again, there’s still a chance for a miracle but don’t get your hopes up. We’ll have to wait until after the smoke clears tonight to see exactly where we are. Expect the worst and hope for the best. But know this…
This was Gov. Lombardo’s first session. Brand new administration put together in just two months. And he was saddled with mostly an army of wet-behind-the-ears rookies, RINOs & surrender monkeys.
But don’t think for a minute the guv is gonna quit fighting.
In a worst-case scenario – where racist “Bull Connor Democrats” continue to stand in the schoolhouse doors, refusing to let low-income dark-skinned kids out – there will still be options to help the kids the Killer D’s are trying to screw.
So don’t wring your hands and give up. This is just one battle in a critical war that’s worth fighting. And we MUST win it. Our kids’ futures depends on our resolve.
In the early days of the Revolutionary War, George Washington lost battle after battle after battle. They were, indeed, times that tried men’s souls. But he didn’t quit. He didn’t throw in the towel.
Instead, he learned hard lessons from his losses, regrouped, changed strategies, and in the end…we won our freedom and no longer had to bow to the king.
I’ve been suffering through these painful losses for 28 long years. But I ain’t quitting. And neither is Gov. Lombardo.
How about you?
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“Defeat doesn’t finish a man, quit does. A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.” – Richard Nixon
“Never quit. It is the easiest cop-out in the world. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.” – Bear Bryant
“When the going gets tough, I’m not always sure what you do. I’m not saying that I know how to fix everything when the going gets tough, but I do know this: when the going goes tough, you don’t quit. And you don’t fold up. And you don’t go in the other direction.” – John Madden
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.