Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
One observer called it a “street fight for the heart of the Republican Party.”
On one side, Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, a majority of Assembly Republicans and other state senators, advocating a more moderate position on the state budget shortfall, including raising taxes in exchange for long-term conservative reforms.
On the other side, other Assembly Republicans and the Nevada Republican Party, advocating that the party not participate in any discussion of taxes to make an ideological point.
Raggio delivered the latest smackdown Tuesday to sophomore Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley. The 82-year-old Senate veteran told Goedhart in an e-mail that he needed to “be a man” and talk to him directly about the fiscal issues facing lawmakers instead of publishing ghostwritten advice to lawmakers on his blog.
Goedhart last week posted on his blog four conditions that should be imposed if lawmakers raise taxes, though he made it clear that he wouldn’t vote to raise taxes.
The conditions include: sunsetting tax increases; making any change to the tax structure revenue-neutral; imposing a spending cap; and committing that federal stimulus money be used for one-shot expenditures.
Raggio was not amused.
“Since you indicate that ‘you have no intention of voting for any tax increases of any kind’ you really have removed yourself from being any part of a potential solution to solving our serious budget crisis,” he wrote in the e-mail, sent to Goedhart and all Senate and Assembly Republicans. “If we are to balance a budget and ensure delivery of ‘essential services’ taxes may be an option, albeit a last option.”
Though Democrats have a veto-proof majority in the Assembly, they need two Republican votes in the state Senate to reach the two-thirds necessary to raise taxes.
Raggio also accused Goedhart of not authoring the “4-point Fiscal Blueprint” posted on his blog. Instead, Raggio said, he believes conservative activist Chuck Muth penned the letter.
Muth didn’t deny writing it, but said it was akin to political advisers creating fliers for candidates. He said he helps Goedhart “all the time,” adding, “I’m willing to help anyone who wants help.”
Muth has advised state Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden to continue pushing the anti-tax message. Last month Lowden sent an open letter to Republican lawmakers asking them to sign a pledge not to raise taxes.
Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, characterized Goedhart’s advice as akin to a news release, “to let his constituents know where he stands.”
But, she said, Raggio “understands the process better than anyone. Sen. Raggio is a straight shooter. He put in there (the e-mail) what he was thinking.”
Raggio ended his message to Goedhart by stating: “In the future, if you want to give me a message or talk with me, be a man and come and see me in person. I’ll be more than willing to discuss these matters.”
The following is the letter from Raggio:
This is in response to your self-titled "4 point Fiscal Blueprint" which you directed to me on February 8th.
Since you indicate that "you have no intention of voting for any tax increases of any kind" you really have removed yourself from being any part of a potential solution to solving our serious budget crisis. If we are to balance a budget and insure delivery of "essential services" taxes may be an option, albeit a last option.
I have some long term experience in this legislative process and I really don't think I benefit from the "advice" that you are offering.
Rather, I think your comments were authored by Chuck Muth and intended by you to be published for your own publicity purposes.
If you really "stand ready to work with your colleagues", I suggest you quit doing press releases, work with the majority of your own caucus, and be willing to listen to all sides of those issues. A closed mind will not help us reach the compromises that, whether you accept it or not, are part of the legislative process.
In the future, if you want to give me a message or talk with me, be a man and come and see me in person. I'll be more than willing to discuss these matters.
Senator Bill Raggio