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April 16, 2014

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MEMO FROM CARSON CITY:

Wisconsin recall victory draws pragmatic response from Nevada Republicans

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s decisive victory against the recall efforts last week may have emboldened some governors and lawmakers across the country to more aggressively confront public-sector employee unions.

When Walker took power in 2010, Wisconsin Republicans also took control of the Legislature, pushing large increases in public employee contributions to pension and benefit plans, eliminating most collective bargaining rights for government workers and stopping the automatic deduction of union dues from government workers’ paychecks.

Those changes spurred protests from Democrats and the labor community and triggered the recall, which ended up being a referendum of support for Walker and the Republican agenda.

But the reaction of Nevada’s elected Republicans to the anti-labor fervor in Wisconsin has been muted, the equivalent of celebrating with a sip of Schlitz instead of popping Champagne corks.

The political reality in Nevada is that any proposed legislation has to have Democratic support.

“I can be as emboldened as I want to be, (but) this has to be a bipartisan solution,” state Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, who sponsored bills last session to end automatic union dues paycheck deductions and eliminate binding arbitration. “Republicans don’t control both houses of the Legislature. No one thinks we’ll control both houses next session. We have to hope Democrats look at the issues on their face, on the merits, and enact some reforms.”

Republicans hope to take back control of the state Senate, where Democrats hold an 11-10 advantage. But in the Assembly, Democrats hold a 26-16 advantage. That makes changes such as those passed under Walker in Wisconsin virtually impossible, through the Legislature.

Without a doubt, when lawmakers meet in 2013, Republicans will run bills to curtail public employee collective bargaining rights — though that seems to be guaranteed more by developments in Nevada than Walker’s win in Wisconsin.

Recently, an arbitrator awarded raises to teachers in Clark County, forcing the School District to prepare for the layoff of as many as 1,000 teachers. On top of that, the city of North Las Vegas declared a state of emergency after the city council said concessions being offered by public employee unions were inadequate to keep the city solvent.

But Republican lawmakers are striking a pragmatic tone, for now.

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, said the Wisconsin results “show voters are concerned about the escalating costs of pensions and benefits of public employees.”

But, he said, “We need to find answers for Nevada’s challenges that are workable for us. I, for one, am not interested in trying to dismantle public or private unions.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval declined an interview request last week. But he has been cautious about taking a combative stance with public employee unions. And Tuesday’s victory by Walker doesn’t appear to have signaled any sort of change to Sandoval’s stance.

“Given ongoing discussions in cities, counties and school districts who frequently ask for reforms, the governor is reviewing all collective bargaining laws and will continue to look at PERS reforms,” Sandoval’s spokeswoman, Mary-Sarah Kinner, said.

Sandoval supports holding negotiations with public employee unions in the open, she said.

Paul Enos, CEO of the Nevada Trucking Association, called Sandoval “a pragmatic guy.”

“I think he will say, ‘Can I win this? Is it worth the political capital on an issue I’m going to lose?’ ” Enos asked. “I think he’ll spend (his capital) on issues like economic diversification, keeping taxes low and having a business-friendly regulatory environment.”

But conservative activists have been frustrated by the modest collective bargaining reforms Republicans have exacted in exchange for supporting tax increases.

“Republicans traded not-so-temporary tax increases for very minor reforms,” said Victor Joecks, a spokesman for the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a libertarian think tank. “It’s like we’re running the first 100 yards of a marathon and stopping to celebrate. It’s a start, but there’s a long way to go.”

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  1. The recall election in Wisconsin was as much about when and why to have a recall in the first place as it was about Walker. Exit polls showed many union members supporting Walker which would seem to go against their own best interests. I think Wisconsin voters had election fatigue and rebelled against recall elections being held without a true reason for having them. November will show whether Wisconsin is turning red, or will stay in the blue column.

  2. Enjoyed the article.

    I notice the total muted tone come out of the Nevada Tea/Republicans.

    And this is because of one reason. And one reason only.

    They do not and will not tell people what would happen if there were a majority of Tea/Republicans in power here in Nevada.

    Because, mark my words, they will reign terror on this State. It will make Wisconsin look like a sideshow. They would ram through everything and anything they could and make it into law.

    Governor Sandoval is not saying anything because he KNOWS deep down in his very soul that if gets the chance, he will ruin this State and turn it into nothing but ultra-conservative ideals. He would absolutely love being put in the position that Governor Walker was in before the recall.

    That's why voting is very, very important. People slack and don't show up at the polls and vote, the Tea/Republicans will get inroads and turn the Great State of Nevada into a cesspool.

    People may say that I'm over reacting, but I say not. Look at the trends their stupid extreme and radical political party has morphed into, and look at the recent idiotic ultra-conservative legislation that has been enacted in other States.

    The problem is centered on one side of the aisle.

    And it's so bad that even THEY can't fix themselves. It's like a freight train with no brakes. Can't be stopped.

    Only way is to make sure they stay out of power and let them self-destruct.

    One thing for sure, we don't want their crap here in Nevada. It only serves the rich, and no one else.

  3. Let's give a maturing voting public some credit for being sick of the games both sides play. Dumbocrat or Republicrat should not be the issue - the person you vote for should be. Blind allegiance merely means you give up any semblance of having control over pencil-pushing, bureaucratic drones and their appointed go-fers. We have to exert control over our employees, both elected and unelected, and if that means reining in the undue influence of unions, so be it.

  4. Paul Enos, CEO of the Nevada Trucking Association, called Sandoval "a pragmatic guy."

    Please see over 8,000 view viral video -the REAL Brian Sandoval here on the CSI: Carson City series that exposes the crime and culture-of-corruption in Nevada Government. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4juUJdlr...

    And the new "Brian Sandoval Deception" video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtkc0YSNx...

    Introducing Nevada WIKI Leaks: http://www.NevadaWikiLeaks.wordpress.com...

  5. It's not the impact on politics that's of prime import. It's the impact on spending. San Jose and San Diego show Las Vegas, Clark County and CCSD how to do it--CUT COSTS by moving to a fair retirement system for government employees--fair for them and fair for the taxpayers. Insanity to give them 4-5 times what the rest of us get in retirement. SS averages around $1,000 a month while teachers often get $4-5,000 a month after a whole 25 years of part-time attendance. The State of Nevada needs to revise it's PERS also--2.5% credit for each year is EXCESSIVE. The LEGISLATURE needs to act promptly to authorize cities, counties, SDs to move on this.

  6. "When Walker took power in 2010, Wisconsin Republicans also took control of the Legislature"

    Why no mention of Wisconsin democrats winning control of the Senate in Wisconsin after the recall vote?

    This recall simply shows the effect of money on elections. A close race shifted with 8 to 1 spending by republicnas with out-of-state money.