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April 17, 2014

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Horsford doggedly attacks Sandoval’s budget cuts

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AP Photo/Cathleen Allison

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, speaks on the Senate floor at the Legislature in Carson City on Monday, March 28, 2011. The Senate convened as a Committee of the Whole to review Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $5.8 billion budget proposal.

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Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford continued his relentless public flogging of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed budget Monday, holding a two-hour budget hearing for the entire Senate in his attempt to convince Republican lawmakers the spending plan is unworkable.

The hearing was part of Horsford’s strategy this session to pummel legislators he considers as possible swing votes on a tax plan with the grim reality of Sandoval’s budget.

For two hours, legislative staff ran down the $1.5 billion in money shuffles Sandoval has proposed — shuffles that rely on borrowing from future revenue, taking money from local governments and shifting funds from other purposes.

Those maneuvers have the potential to hand the next Legislature a $1.1 billion hole, Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, argued.

He then turned to Sandoval’s cuts reading a litany of devastation he believes will occur if the budget passes:

• Dropping Nevada’s average per-pupil education funding below even that of Guam.

• Eliminating funding for hundreds of mentally ill and disabled Nevadans relying on residential support.

• Cutting 174 families from an autism treatment program.

• Chopping a quarter of the higher education budget.

• Cutting staff in parole and probation, closing the Nevada State Prison and Wells Conservation Camp.

At the end of the hearing Horsford reasserted the vow he made at the beginning of the session.

“I am not prepared to support the level of reductions that are proposed,” he said. “We need to put ideological views aside — and that starts by putting everything on the table. As we talk about the cuts we have to make, the reforms we agreed should occur, we also must talk about the revenue needed to responsibly balance this budget.”

But as Horsford insists on a surgical review of the spending cuts, he has yet to put his suggestions for a tax increase on the table for similar inspection.

Horsford has promised a chance for equal scrutiny of a tax plan. As the session nears the halfway mark, however, he is content to let Sandoval’s budget remain the only plan open to attack as he scrambles to convince at least three Republicans that it can’t stand.

In an attempt to disarm Horsford before the hearing, Sandoval released a plan to close a $123 million hole that had opened up in his proposed budget this month. Sandoval spent weeks ignoring Horsford’s demands that he fulfill his constitutional duty to propose a balanced budget.

Although Sandoval put forward a budget fix, Horsford brushed off the proposal, refusing to let Sandoval’s staff present it at the hearing.

Instead, he tried to build the case that the larger problem is that Sandoval’s budget pushes the problem onto future lawmakers.

Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, likened it to a scare tactic.

“If we looked out there far enough we could scare ourselves to death,” McGinness said about handing the 2013 Legislature a $1.1 billion budget hole. “I think we need to work on this current budget, and the governor, with his budget adjustments, seems to have filled up the holes we’re talking about.”

Horsford, still smarting from his failure to persuade lawmakers two years ago to enact a permanent fix, was quick with a reply.

“We do need to look at things more in a multiple-year fashion,” he said. “That’s what has gotten us to where we are: We don’t think about long-term consequences of the decisions we make.”

In addition to the two-hour hearing, Horsford and his staff have helped organize town-hall meetings lambasting the cuts and played a strong role in the rally of more than 1,000 college students at the Legislature.

He’s also meeting individually with Republican senators, during which he presents a detailed breakdown of how the budget cuts would affect their district.

“He’s desperately trying to find people who want to raise taxes,” said state Sen. Barbara Cegavske of Las Vegas, who as the Senate Republicans’ second in command has staked out a staunch opposition to a tax increase.

“Everybody knows the tactic. He can do that, it’s fine.”

But will it work?

Sen. Joe Hardy of Boulder City, who is on Horsford’s list of possible swing Republicans, described his meeting as pleasant. He acknowledged he has concerns about how the cuts will affect his district and the state as a whole.

But after the rallies, the hearings and the one-on-one meetings has anything persuaded Hardy to back away from Sandoval’s budget?

“I still support the governor’s budget,” he said.

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  1. "I am not prepared to support the level of reductions that are proposed," he said. "We need to put ideological views aside -- and that starts by putting everything on the table. As we talk about the cuts we have to make, the reforms we agreed should occur, we also must talk about the revenue needed to responsibly balance this budget."

    Thank God.
    Intelligent Life Form has been spotted in Carson City.
    That quote there is a perfect BULLSEYE!

    Dropping Nevada's average per-pupil education funding below even that of Guam.

    But it WOULD put us on par with ATLANTIS!

    *Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, likened it to a scare tactic.

    "If we looked out there far enough we could scare ourselves to death," McGinness said about handing the 2013 Legislature a $1.1 billion budget hole. "I think we need to work on this current budget, and the governor, with his budget adjustments, seems to have filled up the holes we're talking about."

    Holy Mother of God...
    This part is NOT GOOD.
    Is McGinness for REAL???
    Sounds like something a CHILD would say!

    "Wull, jeepers, B.S. took care o' them holes with sum budjut mahnoovers. Ahl's well here in Carson city."

    It's TWO YEARS. Not 20, not 10, or even 5...
    2 YEARS!
    YES INDEEDY, THAT IS MIGHTY SCARY, Mikey.
    We'll make sure they leave a Night light on for ya.

  2. Republicans are two-faced about raising taxes. Last March they tried to stop Obama from cutting payroll taxes for businesses, but Scott Brown voted with the Democrats, and then got called a traitor.
    That cut ended at the end of the year, but saved me a lot of money. Obama wanted to extend it, but Republicans killed that idea. I'm a small business owner, and will pay more in payroll taxes thanks to the Republicans.

    Why do Republican business owners support Republicans who make them pay higher payroll taxes? It doesn't matter to employers who cheat and pay undocumented workers in cash, but what about all of us who obey the law and hire Americans? Payroll taxes will cost me a lot more money than anything Horsford wants.

  3. Have another cup of tea! Personally I drink coffee and am part of the Coffee Party - a liberal group.
    Impeach Sandoval - that is the answer!

  4. I believe that the only way we the State of Nevada can serve is to cut inside the state not to the people that come here as they are the backbone of the state. We over tax to much we will look Atlantic City cold dirty nasty , broken down casinos.And we live in the desert to be cold we must cut so the fires rise and all the people come back and the strip grows again , and we then can build New casinos that had closed finish the ones that never where completed sell off our houses and build new houses, and get back to a low unemployment,that is where Governor Sandoval we voted in is tying to do , so lets help him and stop all the *&^(... I do not want to see billion dollar on our books do you? Because I do not have that kind of money DO? If SO you pay off our debt.....! Thank you

  5. Leave it to Whorsford and he will bankrupt NV but he'll still have his reserved parking space in the handicap zones!

  6. It seems a bit like a replay of health care reform or other things with the parties reversed. He we have Governor Sandoval who has a plan on the table and the other side does not like it, but have we seen a full plan from Senator Horsford or anyone else. Like the Democrats said when the Republicans were picking on the health care reform bill, it is always easy to pick apart a plan from someone else but much harder to put forth one of your own. It would be refreshing to see Senator Horsford submit a framework for what he thinks the spending levels should be and where the money should be raised. At least at that point we would set some markers for the boundaries of the discussion instead of picking apart the governors plan without any clear direction outside of a call for more revenue.

  7. Senator Horsford is moving down the right path taking a look at REVENUE and lack of a fair tax structure.
    This governor is in the pocket of big business in this state, he was selected, virtually appoainted by them to represent their interests only. He in no way represents the interests of working Nevadans.
    Thank you Senator Horsford!