Legislators “Offended” and “Insulted” As They Make Symbolic Party-Line Vote Over Education Budget

CARSON CITY – It was not until 30 minutes before midnight that a six-hour debate in the Assembly ended with a promise to talk more later.

After listening to presentations outlining more than $1 billion in “major reductions” to the K-12 budget, legislators debated their willingness to compromise or negotiate about Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposed general fund budget.

“My caucus will be voting gov rec,” said Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, using an abbreviation for the governor’s recommended budget. “So you’re not going to get the wiggle room you’re looking for.”

In the end, all 16 Assembly Republicans voted in a symbolic motion to support a motion last night to pass Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommended budget. All 26 Assembly Democrats opposed the motion.

The Senate will debate the same budget in the same process today.

Republicans repeatedly said they want to see specific tax proposals as well as a reassurance that reforms they want will pass out of the Assembly as a trade for tax increases.

“Until we have the discussions about the reforms and the revenue package, we will continue to have a discussion about gov rec,” Goicoechea said.

Democrats stressed the need to debate specifics of the governor’s proposed education budget. Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said the Assembly needed to find common ground for an acceptable level of cuts before they could discuss additional revenues.

“We rarely change a lot … 10, 15, 20 percent of the budget,” he said.

He called the six-hour marathon hearing in the Assembly chambers a success.

“We got the temperature of where people are at,” he said. “It felt to me that we saw a few people who said we can look at a few things.”

Sprinkled throughout the hearing in Assembly chambers were instances of legislators calling each other “disingenuous” and saying they were “offended” and “insulted” with each other.

The verbal sniping came only hours after the Senate inducted former Sen. Bill Raggio into the Senate’s Hall of Fame. Raggio, a legislator who retired earlier this year, was a constant critic of the partisan hardening and lack of respect characteristic of 21st century political debate.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D- North Las Vegas, said Nevada’s Assembly was starting to look like D.C.

“If we want to have D.C. politics, here it is,” she said.

Both Democrats and Republicans did, however, say that the new process of having budget discussions involving all 42 Assembly members appealed to them more than having a few key legislators meet and make decisions in private.

But that does not make anybody more likely to agree.

“It looks like we’re going to be here for a very long haul,” said Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas.

Assemblyman Mark Sherwood, R-Las Vegas, called the whole hearing a “farce,” to which Kirkpatrick, retorted: “if you don’t respect the institution, don’t come back.”

As Wednesday morning drew close, Goicoechea said there’s “no doubt” everybody wants to find a solution.

“This is the beginning, this isn’t the end,” Smith said. “This was the first tough discussion we had … We can’t call each other disingenuous because we disagree. It’s not a farce. It’s not a train wreck.”

But by 11:30 p.m., the only unanimous motion was for the Assembly to retire for the night.


  • deacon427

    Disagree about what? Do you not agree with need to do what is best for all of Nevada? Do you not agree that one group is not more important than the other? Do you not agree that not just one person has the answer including the Governor? Do you agree that education is the cornerstone of any great society? Do you not agree that some sort of educational reform is needed short of decimating the budget? Do you not agree that gaming has yet to come to the table in a real and geniune way? Do you not agree that mining is not paying their fair share to the state budget and to the benefit of all of Nevada? Do you not agree that weneed geniune and real solutions to the budget situation for Nevada? Do you not agree that service related companies where services are not taxed in our state have not paid their fare share? Do you not agree that the tax system for Nevada is in need of reform to make it broader and equitable for all Nevadans? If you agree to most or all of these then what in the heck are you doing backing the Governor’s Budget proposal??? The Governor’s budget proposal as far as I can see does not fully address any of these things. This is a case of the republicans in the assembly blindly following the Governor. Let me ask you if the Governor was walking off a cliff would you follow him to your demise? The answer should be yes because that is exactly what you are doing here, blind following the blind. You think Governor Sandoval wants what is best for Nevada? Is that a joke? Not getting the punch line, but when it comes it will be a dousey! Wake up people! Sandoval is lost and has been from day one and it was never more evident then in his state of state speech outling his so-called budget plan. The plan is smoke and mirrors in the form of a shell game. He is not solving problems he is only delaying them. You follow him and I guarantee you that you will have a bigger problem in 2 years, and in these next 2 years you will have nothing but issue after issue, and it won’t be pretty. We need hope, not rhetoric! We need solutions, not smoke and mirrors and games. This is NOT A GAME folks, this is as real as it gets. Cuts are not the only answer and the sooner you wake up to that fact the better off you will be. If you want shared sacrifice then I am certainly game, but please tell me when you want to start because I have not seen it yet.

  • Anonymous

    Its so sad but typical to see politics from politicians. In these time we need leadership and we don’t get any. If they can’t do any better than this recall them all and start over. But honestly they need to do what is RIGHT not what is POPULAR. They have a responsibility morally and legally.