Thursday, May 26, 2011

Time has come to end political posturing: "Its Just not Necessary"

Cynical folks consider the legislature's "end game" an interesting, or even fun, experience.

Citizens do not. We find it rather sickening. It is just not necessary.

By this point, almost all the key questions have been resolved -- and few of them in ways that seem to suggest we are moving on the right track in Nevada. Especially for college and university students, faculty and staff.

No one who professes to be concerned with the economic future of the state can feel very good about the direction things have gone this week, with the withdrawal of a proposed revenue reform package intended to end our state's boom-and-bust economic cycles and put it on a more secure footing for the future.

And indeed, no one who professes to be concerned with even their own short-term economic interest can be very pleased by the spectacle of the last 48 hours, as the Democratic majority has been forced to negotiate with itself, compromise on its own compromise proposal, and still find not a single Republican willing to even discuss anything other than a massive tax cut that would represent a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars for casinos, the mining industry, and out-of-state retail corporations at the expense of even a modest cushioning of the harsh blow this state is preparing to deliver to its children, its ill, its needy and to those who seek a different future for the state which will be possible only through a vibrant system of higher education.

And indeed no one, even among those positioned to profit the most from such a windfall, wants it. At a hearing today of the Assembly Ways & Means committee, there was a massive show of opposition to such a massive business tax cut and a massive show of support to continue current tax policies -- enacted as a short-term measure in 2009 and in the February 2010 special session with the clear understanding among both Democrats and Republicans that "revenue reform" would be enacted in 2011 and thus set to expire this year, therefore known in the poetry of the legislature as "sunset taxes".

In the words of the man widely considered the most influential business lobbyist in the state,

There isn't a business in this state, that cares about this state, that wants to see its taxes reduced while we are laying off teachers, reducing their salaries, furloughing state employees, reducing nursing home support, reducing public safety, potentially closing community colleges, increasing tuition, eliminating professors, eliminating degrees from universities. It's just not necessary.
And yet ....

Apparently a small minority of the state does feel it is necessary.

The Republican caucus of both houses of the legislature continue to maintain the ludicrous position that contrary to the consensus of nearly every qualified economic forecaster in the state, in private industry, government or the academy, that deep cuts in public services are more detrimental to a recessionary economy than modest taxes to sustain public investment,
Even the Chamber of Commerce's own publication, in an interview with the Las Vegas business community's favorite economic forecaster, states it:

lowering taxes that will require us to cut education and then borrow money is counterproductive to the ultimate goals we are trying to achieve...
And at today's hearing precisely those companies who would most benefit from a tax windfall stated that they neither expect nor need it to improve their business over the next two years.

Moreover, some of these same Republicans are on public record as saying that they would support not only current tax levels but even increases ... so long as they would not "hurt business."

Well, today, they heard definitively that continuing current tax levels would not hurt business.

So what did that same Republican, a man who prides himself on his word and on being open to all ideas, say ? That he would only consider one budget proposal: the Governor's hundreds of millions of windfall tax cuts for big business while decimating public education and necessary health care -- causes to which he has pledged his support throughout his career, and which need his support now.

No discussion, no compromise, no justification.

This is unacceptable. We are no longer merely talking about the Republican Senator who skipped crucial hearings on higher education to to campaign for higher office. Or the Republican Assembly member who told students testifying on the impact of cuts to higher education: "We don't care."

This time, it seems the the Republicans want to hold the entire state's future hostage to discussions of redistricting.

That is not only cynical. It is also dishonorable. And it is just not necessary.

Contact these legislators -- again if you have called or written -- and let them know we are simply asking them now to do the job they have sworn an oath to do: the business of the people.

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