Las Vegas Sun

December 20, 2014

Currently: 52° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Timing of court ruling breaking budget stalemate no coincidence

Image

Justin M. Bowen

Gov. Brian Sandoval addresses the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at a luncheon held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas.

Updated Thursday, May 26, 2011 | 8:49 p.m.

Sun Coverage

The timing of a Nevada Supreme Court decision that broke a budget stalemate and pushed Gov. Brian Sandoval to switch positions on extending taxes seemed providential.

But it was no coincidence.

Lawyers for the Nevada Legislature asked the Supreme Court in February to expedite a ruling on whether the state could take $62 million from a Clark County agency, so lawmakers would know whether to include the money in the budget.

Additionally, Chief Justice Michael L. Douglas said that Democratic leadership made inquiries with the court.

“We got some requests, not directly to me, like, ‘Are you guys going to have

a decision?’ We had no answer,” Douglas said.

But, he said, there was no conversation about the case. “Any conversation would be inappropriate. We do realize that,” he said.

Douglas declined to say who contacted the Nevada Supreme Court about the decision.

The unanimous court decision on the 2010 Legislature’s grab of $62 million from the Clark County Clean Water Coalition for a now-canceled water project came as budget negotiations had reached an impasse. Republican senators were sticking with Sandoval and his pledge not to raise taxes.

Democrats promised to force a government shutdown rather than passing Sandoval’s cuts.

Bill Gang, spokesman for the court, indicated it was not unusual to request an expedited hearing.

Oral arguments for the case were heard about a month ago, and justices seemed skeptical of the state’s arguments that it had the authority to take the Clean Water Coalition money.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera would not answer questions about the topic on Thursday, saying only that the court could not be influenced. Later, his staff said the Legislative Counsel Bureau, the lawyers for lawmakers, requested the expedited hearing.

Conservatives on Thursday furiously took to twitter to express their displeasure with the decision and with Sandoval’s turnabout.

The precedent of the decision could increase the budget hole by $500 million, forcing Sandoval to reconsider his budget, according to sources close to the governor.

Friday has been viewed as a key deadline for the 2011 Nevada Legislature, which ends on June 6 per the state Constitution. The Legislature would have to pass an alternative to Sandoval’s budget then to have time to override a veto.

During a brutal tax fight in 2003, the Nevada Supreme Court was accused of activism by telling the Legislature that it could pass a budget without a two-thirds majority for a tax increase, as required by the state Constitution. The court later invalidated that ruling, which was widely panned.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 3 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Interesting. It explains a lot, especially why the Dems didn't include the monies in their funding plan. Smart.

  2. Contact your legislator at 1-800-978-2878 and demand that the tax breaks for foreign mining corporations, which are paid for by taxes from Nevada's working families, be ended so that those citizens from Europe and Canada can start to pay SOME of the taxes they owe for doing business in this state! The taxes paid by Nevada's working families should be for services for Nevada's working families, not for foreign corporations as the Republicans in the legislature would like it! Nevada's small businesses pay taxes-its time for foreign companies to do the same!

  3. What WilliamHill says!!!

    MAKE THAT CALL!
    1-800-978-2878

    What the he11 is WRONG with this state?
    "Just go ahead and take it...we're not usin' it."