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Finally…the Finale

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D-Mining/Gaming/Big Labor) wrapped up the 2009 session yesterday with a floor speech that included the following: “We did what the people of Nevada wanted us to do.” The people of Nevada wanted a billion dollar tax hike? I….don’t….think….so.

In his own pat-on-the-back end-of-session speech, Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera (D-Las Vegas), a firefighter in his day job, proudly declared that the Legislature passed a billion tax hike to put out an “economic inferno” and “to save lives.”

Yes, apparently Johnny O agrees with Speaker Barbara Buckley (D-Las Vegas) that without the billion dollar tax hike, people were going to die. What bull.

But they sold it to more than enough naïve Republicans. I guess you CAN fool some people all of the time. Speaking of which….

Now that the 2009 Legislature is blessedly over, infuriated Republican grassroots activists are mulling what to do about the RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) who sided with the Democrats and against the people of Nevada and their fellow Republican governor to pass this billion dollar tax hike in the middle of a recession.

Clark County GOP Chairman Bernie Zadrowski – a Republican leader no one has ever accused of being a shrinking violet OR a RINO – has called for a special meeting of the Clark County Republican Central Committee (CCRCC) to discuss what to do about the Republican legislators who gave aid and political comfort to the opposition this session.

“I am calling a special meeting of the CCRCC for June 9 for the following purpose(s),” Chairman Zadrowski announced in an email notice sent out to the party’s Central Committee Members two days ago.

“1) For the CCRCC to consider passing a (resolution), in the strongest language possible, condemning the actions of each individual Republican legislator by name who voted for the tax increases, and to condemn each individual Republican legislator who voted to override the governor’s veto.

“2) For the CCRCC to consider passing a resolution, in the strongest language possible, praising the actions of each individual Republican legislator by name who voted against the tax increases, and to praise each one of them for standing behind the Governor and Republican principles in voting against overriding the governor’s veto.”

In addition, Chairman Zadrowski urged “each and every county chairman in Nevada to call a special meeting of their central committee to consider doing the same thing.”

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio (R-Reno) – the Republican who had it within his power to stop the billion dollar tax hike cold in its tracks by virtue of the 2/3 super-majority requirement for tax hikes….but didn’t – is reportedly furious with Zadrowski and is trying to stop the special meeting from taking place until he’s had an opportunity to meet with the conservative GOP boss and “re-educate” him.

Good luck with that, Sen. Raggio.

The fact is it’s high time for the party’s Central Committee members to snap the suspenders of elected Republicans like Sen. Raggio who run as Republicans in elections, who solicit money from Republican donors, who use Republican volunteers on their campaigns, and who win their elections primarily with the votes of Republican voters – and then turn around during the legislative session and spit in the eye of the very people who sent them there in the first place.

Frankly, Sen. Raggio was the worst offender this session. He ran for office in a heated Republican primary last summer and GUARANTEED that he would not support tax hikes this session. But once re-elected, he turned around and not only failed to block the billion dollar tax hike, but helped NEGOTIATE for its passage with the Democrat leadership.

In his defense, Sen. Raggio is going to say three things:

1.) Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons’ budget was “mean, not lean.” But if that was the case, Sen. Raggio should have worked with his fellow Republican governor to fix the budget, not Majority Leader Horsford and Speaker Buckley. Sen. Raggio’s changes could have been incorporated in the amended budget Gov. Gibbons submitted after the Economic Forum set the projected revenue figures on May 1st instead of working with the Democrat opposition to raise taxes by a billion dollars.

And before Sen. Raggio blames the governor for not sitting down and discussing legislative “strategery” with him during the session, let me ask when the last time was that Sen. Raggio met with and discussed legislative strategy with the leaders of the Republican Party? When did Sen. Raggio ever sit down with the elected members of the GOP’s Central Committee during this session to discuss his plans to raise taxes by a billion dollars? And now HE’S upset because THEY’RE upset with him? Please. People in glass houses…..

2.) Sen. Raggio will want credit for insisting that most of the legs of the billion dollar tax hike will “sunset” after two years. But as we all know, tax hikes, once established, rarely go away. The fact is Nevadans wouldn’t have had to worry about whether or not the tax hikes were going to expire in two years if Sen. Raggio had simply stopped them in the first place.

And please, Senator, enough of the BS about “which schools and fire stations would you close down instead?” That’s a false choice and Democrat talking points – and you know it. There are plenty of NON-ESSENTIAL government programs and services which could have been sliced-and-diced instead of raising taxes by a billion dollars.

Or do you maintain that each and every government employee still on payroll today is “essential” – including the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at UNLV?

3.) Sen. Raggio will want credit for insisting on reforms to the government employee health care and retirement programs. But the reforms to these programs are minimal, at best. They do nothing to fix the huge current budget problem. The reforms agreed to primarily apply only to new workers (essential and non-essential) who will be hired after January 1 of next year. Big whoop.

Because the Democrats needed two Republican votes in the Senate to pass their billion dollar tax hike, Sen. Raggio held all the cards. He could have asked for the moon and gotten it. Instead, he sold out the Republican Party for a bag of magic beans and a few table scraps.

And this wasn’t the first time. Remember, it was Bill Raggio who, as a young lawyer, negotiated with the Indians on behalf of Gen. Custer at Little Big Horn. And I think we all know how THAT turned out.

Seriously, though. If Sen. Raggio wanted the elected party regulars to support him on his support of the billion dollar tax hike, he should have made his case BEFORE casting his lot with the Democrats, not after. Now the horse is out of the barn and we can only hope the GOP, for its own good and the good of its future candidates, adopts the resolutions Chairman Zadrowski has proposed.

It’s time for Republicans to be Republicans again.


“Well, I’m not going to raise taxes, I can guarantee you that.”

– Republican Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, 8/5/08

“This is not the time to start talking about raising taxes. It is something that we can’t even consider.”

– Republican Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, 07/08


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