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AG refuses Sandoval’s request to file petition with court

Updated Saturday, May 28, 2011 | 7:32 p.m.

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Catherine Cortez Masto

CARSON CITY — The Legislature has sided with Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto in refusing a request by Gov. Brian Sandoval to petition the Nevada Supreme Court to clarify a ruling that impacts the state budget.

The court ruled the state could not appropriate $62 million from the Clark County Clean Water Coalition to help fill a hole in the state budget. Sandoval wants the court to clarify if the ruling also applies to another $594 million from local sources that are part of his budget plan.

When asked if the Legislature would file a petition with the court, Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, said, “Our focus is on the current budget problems.”

The Legislature is a defendant in the case and would have standing to file a petition with the Supreme Court.

Dale Erquiaga, senior advisor to the governor, said Sandoval was disappointed with the position of the attorney general and has lost confidence in her office.

Cortez Masto said there is no procedural mechanism to seek a clarification and that she would not file a request for another hearing.

In a press release, Cortez Masto, a Democrat, said she was sorry the Republican governor “has chosen to politicize the legal advice my office provided to him in this matter.”

She said she understood the pressure the governor is under to balance the budget. “That’s why I am surprised the governor chooses to create dissension between our offices rather than face the crisis at hand,” she said.

Cortez Masto said she hopes they can talk about Sandoval’s “concerns with my office in a calm and reasonable manner.”

Erquiaga said, “As a former attorney general himself, the governor respects both the office and the attorney-client relationship, but he disagrees and is profoundly disappointed in the attorney general’s decision.”

Budget officials for the governor and the Legislature, meanwhile, cannot agree on how far apart they are in dealing with the shortfall.

Erquiaga said the governor is sticking to his initial two-year budget of $6.2 billion.

He said the Legislature added expenditures to the budget hundreds of millions of dollars over the governor’s budget.

Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, said fiscal analysts for the Legislature and the budget officials for the governor are meeting to iron out their differences.

What they finally agree upon will determine what part of the so-called sunset taxes — taxes set to expire June 30 — need to be extended.

In an easing of their positions, McGinness said Republicans may go for extending some of those taxes and emphasized that they are not new taxes. Sandoval had pledged not to raise taxes.

Erquiaga said the governor is considering extending some of the taxes set to expire, but “there is no intent of using all of those dollars.”

Horsford said extending the sunset taxes would yield $679 million. He said there is a meeting Saturday night with the governor to determine how large the deficit is and what to do about it.

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  1. Governor Sandoval is a former Federal Judge and should know better. No Court is going to rule on an issue without specific complaints and defense of the compaints. The Supremes would not even look at it until it was appealed from a District Court. The Nevada Constitution looks pretty clear on the matter and the Guv is wise to adopt the worst case scenario.

  2. Is Sandoval still Governor? Or has Dale Erquiaga taken over? Maybe he should go back to R & R or something. Stop wasting people's time on your shell game Brian.

  3. Time for Sandogibbons and his boy Dale to stop delaying and do what needs to be done-eliminate the tax breaks for the foreign mining corporations, extend the taxes already in place and be grown-ups. They had 110 days to play politics and games with taking money from local governments. Stop the delay. Call your legislator at 1-800-978-2878 and demand that they eliminate the foreign mining corporations tax breaks that are paid for with taxes from Nevada's working families.

  4. I really can't blame Attorney General Cortez Masto for her stance on this. Just like before (with Governor Gibbons wanting to put in a lawsuit for Nevada regarding the Affordable Care Act), the Republican leaders of our State just make up stuff along the way. Just like the last yahoo, this knucklehead lives in a Republican hellworld where they only look at the goal, and, in order to get there, he just makes up stuff without any logic applied.

    I am pleased to see the Attorney General is doing the right thing. She is not playing party politics. She is exercising her authority for the position she was elected and is doing EXACTLY what her constituents want her to do. I am glad to see she is not making up stuff as she goes along. She is working within the law and not playing stupid games.

    SHE is the leader here. And she is proving her worth. Not Governor Sandoval. Nor the people he surrounds himself with.

    I didn't vote for Governor Sandoval. Mainly because he never ever seemed to have an idea on what to do, nor did he seem to have any plan on anything. And I was correct in not voting for that knucklehead. Because all he does is try to fix things with empty rhetoric, false promises, imaginary money, doughnuts and pizza.

    This Governor, along with that creepy Erquiaga dude, seem to perpetually focus their unified attention on only an agenda and try to make all the means to attain it magically appear. No matter how hard they try to manipulate an outcome, the mathematical equation two plus two doesn't equal 4,532,002. It STILL equals four, no matter how you look at it.

    And by the way, another commenter asked a question that I would like to see answered also. Who's in charge? Is it Governor Sandoval? Or is it Erquiaga? I'm totally confused because it looks like his henchman appears to have more power than Governor Dracula does.

    Anyways, the last Governor tried to play this party politics sort of shenanigans with Attorney General Cortez Masto and manipulate that office to suit their stupid self-serving agenda. Thank God she didn't fall for their crap then and I'm glad to see it won't work now.

    I totally applaud this Attorney General. She is earning every single penny of her paycheck.

    Not like part the Red Sea with a wave of his hand and money magically appears Governor Sandoval and his creepy yes man kimosabe sidekick Tonto Erquiaga.

  5. Time for Cortez Masto to go. She has long let politics rule her decisions, not the good of the people of Nevada. She's a disgrace and she needs to resign.

  6. This AG is in dire need of being reminded who she works for.

    "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." -- Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare's "Henry The Sixth," Part 2 Act 4, scene 2