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January 29, 2015

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The Legislature:

Republicans issue list of demands to be met before they’ll talk taxes

Pete Goicoechea

Pete Goicoechea

John Oceguera

John Oceguera

Assembly Republicans have settled on five sweeping changes to state and local government that their Democratic colleagues would have to agree to before they would consider supporting any tax package.

Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, shared only the broad topics where his caucus wants to see changes. They are:

• Strengthen management’s position in public employee collective bargaining rules.

• Adjust prevailing wage levels on public works projects.

• Implement conservative education reforms, including school vouchers.

• Lessen taxpayer liability for public employee pensions and health benefits.

• Change construction defect law to protect contractors and subcontractors against lawsuits.

“This is part of an endgame,” said Goicoechea, referring to the horse trading expected in any deal on the state budget.

Goicoechea said his caucus won’t consider raising taxes from existing rates, but would under the right circumstances extend taxes passed in 2009 that are scheduled to expire June 30.

Those levies would generate about $700 million, he said.

It’s the frankest talk yet from any legislative caucus on the biggest issue confronting lawmakers — whether to support or oppose Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget, which closes the $2.2 billion hole without tax increases and while letting those taxes sunset.

To date, the left has declared only that Sandoval’s proposed cuts are too painful and said changes in how Nevada governments work — issues that were used as bargaining chips to attract conservative voters to any tax package — are separate discussions.

Meanwhile, many on the right, including Sandoval, have said they want changes to education, public employee pensions and retirement benefits, but that taxes are off the table.

Conservative interest groups are divided on whether there’s any room to negotiate on taxes. Some want lawmakers to hold fast with Sandoval. Others see taxes as a bargaining chip with which to buy once-in-a-generation change in how government workers are compensated and schools are managed.

If Democratic and Republican lawmakers can bargain, the 2011 Legislature will end like 2009’s — Republicans trying to trade tax votes for reform. Although that idea has floated in 2011’s Carson City ether since before the session, it had been unspoken.

Democrats, as they did in 2009, have spent the opening weeks trying to expose shortcomings in Sandoval’s budget and build a case for why cuts in social services, schools and the higher education system would harm the state.

They have not come out publicly with any specific tax proposals.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said Democrats are talking about some reform. The Assembly heard four education bills proposed by Democrats on Wednesday. Those include extending the teacher tenure period from one year to three years and making poorly performing teachers go on probationary status.

“We’ve said we need serious reforms, serious cuts and long-range planning,” Oceguera said. “We believe some cuts, like in education, are a little too deep and counterproductive to economic development.”

He said Democrats “have not drawn a line in the sand on anything, like (Republicans) have.”

Another Democratic lawmaker, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the list of demands is “unreasonable” if all they get in return is support for extending the expiring taxes. The revenue raised wouldn’t be nearly enough to undo cuts in schools, higher education or social services.

In 2009, Senate Republicans ran with a list of proposals from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and leveraged that for their votes to increase taxes. Conservatives said changes in pensions, health benefits and collective bargaining approved two years ago did not go far enough.

This time, with the popular Sandoval, who has promised not to raise taxes or extend expiring taxes, and stronger minorities in both the Assembly and Senate, conservatives are reaching further.

Goicoechea said, for example, that on collective bargaining, local governments should be able to open contracts with public workers if tax revenue falls short of projections. He did not call for ending collective bargaining for local workers (state workers in Nevada have never had that right) — the proposal that has caused large protests in Wisconsin.

Assembly Republicans’ position seems in line with the business lobby, which has not ruled out raising taxes in exchange for some of the changes.

The Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce regularly ends its legislative update by stating, “The Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce will NOT support tax increases until the following reforms are passed,” — it then lists K-12 and higher education, collective bargaining and retirement benefits.

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce is taking a more subtle approach. It released a list of reforms Wednesday, some general and some specific.

The business group’s proposals include:

• Eliminating binding arbitration if employee groups and the local government can’t reach an agreement. The decision would fall to elected officials.

• Allowing contracts to be open in the case of a “fiscal emergency.”

• Increasing employees’ contribution to their retirement.

• Ending retirement health insurance subsidies for new employees.

• Changing how schools are governed so the governor is in charge.

Asked if the reforms are tied to taxes, chamber executive Steve Hill said, “I think right now those are two separate issues.” But, he added, “I don’t deny there’s a possibility that taxes and reforms are linked, potentially, at the end of the session, as some type of compromise.”

Senate Republicans have “discussed briefly” reforms they want to see, said Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon. But they have not taken a formal caucus vote on any specifics.

“We’re absolutely still with the governor” on taxes, he said.

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  1. Here is the bottom line - the title:

    "Republicans issue list of demands to be met before they'll talk taxes"

    This says "Give us everything we want first, then we'll discuss what you want".

    The GOP first used "No Negotiations" with terrorists, now they use it with anyone who opposes them - and the National Guard is waiting in the wings to be activated.

    Religion is an Authority, never a Democracy. Bring Religion into the Government and Freedom will be the shared sacrifice.

  2. Ha ha ha!!!

    Here's a Bronx cheer to that.

    A "list of demands"?

    Republican children;
    "I'll think about it, but you have to give me your allowance for a whole promise? Swear on it!"

  3. At least NV Republicrats haven't fled the state to shirk their responsibilities like a bunch of craven Dumbocrats I could mention but won't. Talk about "chicken-livers!"

  4. Just what we need less protection for home buyers. Look at all the defects now. Looks like the Republicans have been paid off by the developers. Come to Nevada everyone! If the home you buy turns out to be junk, well that is just too bad.

    Also the voucher plan will cost millions, I thought they wanted to save money? Can kids get a voucher to attend a white supremacist school? I guess so, that is why these Republican want them.

  5. Jerry understands nothing and shows it in his posts every time.

  6. Simple solution that requires only a few Republicans. Here goes. All of the Clark County delegation meets. They go to Sandogibbons and say, "There is a group here with a 2/3 majority that can override anything you do: the Clark County legislative delegation. There are 29 of us among 42 in the Assembly, 14 of the 21 in the state senate. So, it's up to us. We don't like what you propose. We will close the budget gap by closing everything in the state of Nevada north of our county. All Carson City state government offices, gone. All educational institutions, gone. You, governor, will need to find a new place to live. That's our compromise. Have a nice day."

    Democrats MIGHT do it? Republicans from Clark County? They show no signs of representing their constituents, and trust me, I have first-hand evidence to prove it.

  7. David, vouchers are not a conservative education reform...

  8. At least NV Republicrats haven't fled the state to shirk their responsibilities like a bunch of craven Dumbocrats I could mention but won't. Talk about "chicken-livers!"

    Sheesh, lvfacts - get YOUR facts straight. It was BECAUSE of the Republicans, the Democrats left the state. There is no reason for NV Repugnicans to leave the State. However, we'll see what happens with the NV Democrats - Disneyland is nice at this time of year! Also, there still is some good skiing left in Utah.

  9. I find it humorous when people say things like "Lessen taxpayer liability for public employee pensions and health benefits."

    How do you do that? Tell them to get 2nd jobs in the private sector and pay a special tax? No matter what you do, tax payers will always be 100% liable. Even if you do a 401k match, the money the employee contributes ultimately comes from the tax payer.

    Can we just say pay cut and stop the BS?

  10. Here we go with the GOP plan:

    cut state employee benefits to levels even worse than they are now so only the stupid or suckers will ever consider working for Nevada;

    gut an already severely underfunded public education system even further with a voucher program that pays for rich kids to go to private schools;

    let builders off the hook for slapping up shoddy and even unsafe structures with their slam-bam crews of low-wage undocumented amigos;

    give corporate bosses even more power to screw over their employees.

    American corporations are paying historically low taxes right now: average 4%, despite the high rate, because of all the flim-flam loopholes, exemptions, and con-job provisions the GOP has inserted into the tax code for more than a generation (more than $1.2 trillion dollars worth, so enough to take care of our deficit soon if business ever paid its fair share). Source:

    The rich are like a huge fat stomach, eating up everything until there's nothing left. Is there no end to this rampant greed?

    Democrats: don't give an inch, not one. Let these lackeys to the rich have their way for now. The rage that follows will cause citizens to vote them out of office in the next election!

  11. Chancellor Dan Klaich, Here is a suggestion how your NV. University system can conduct research and save the state money.

    Assist Jason Crosby of NV. Building & Grounds in figuring out which power bill corresponds to which building the state owns, which state agency occupies it, and how much energy each building uses. Mr. Crosby has been working on this project for several months and hasn't been able to figure it out. Apparently the state is paying power bills but they don't know for which location or agency.

    When I began assisting him as a citizen he complained to Stacy Crowley from the NV. Dept of Energy who pointedly told me to stop calling him.

    The subject of the next research project is UMC's Delinquent and Outstanding Receivables. They collect less than 5% of their billings.

    The Governor is correct in NOT raising taxes when the business of our state is so poorly managed.

  12. Ricky,
    The governor is supposed to manage the business of our state...and completely failing to do so.

  13. A good start at negotiating a resolution to our budgetary problem. Not perfect, just like the Gov's proposals weren't perfect, but at some point the Dems & GOP are going to have to work together to resolve the budget.

    Sounds so easy when written, doesn't it? In fact, isn't that what we as voters want them to do? Work together? Instead, we have REpublicans on both the State level and in Washington ranting almost as much as Charlie Sheen and not getting ANYTHING accomplished in a bipartisan fashion. It's more like "if you don't do as we say, we're going to do it anyway; screw the American people".

  14. Change teacher tenure from 1 to 3 years? Tenure is employment for life. No one should be guaranteed employment for life. That is a natural outgrowth from the socialists playbook... cradle to grave government entitlements.

    As for the rest, I say to the Republicans: Get what you can while you can as eventually the tide will turn. Human nature dictates this never ending cycle and the time will come when the left is again taxing and spending every dollar and every breath they can. Anything that can be done now to protect personal liberty is insurance for the time when the progressives again try to destroy the Republic.

  15. The Republicants are ridiculous on top of everything they want tax money (vouchers) to send the rich kids to private school. I do not mind paying my taxes but I sure do want to fund the wealthy's children to go to private schools while my kids go to Clark County schools.

    The Republicants are out of their frigging minds!

  16. TAX
    the rich
    DON'T AX
    the poor

  17. Since when, does the Chamber of Commerce dictate what state reforms or how the state and local governments should be ran?

    In this article, you cannot hear the voices of the very people who are subject to the alledged reforms, taxes, and laws! Not balanced reporting or government, to say the least.

    One can assume that it is because of the Chamber of Commerce's representatives, that Nevadans are in this economic mess, as it solely serves their business clients, not the people. So folks, here is reform #1: those representing the Chamber of Commerce may only attend and speak if there are the equal number of citizen interests represented at these "Demand" meetings. Thank you!