As the core group turns: Drama from Carson City

Victor Joecks

Headline from Inside Nevada Politics: Core group meeting melts down again.

Legislative leadership’s core group meeting disbanded again without an agreement on how much to fund higher education, the last remaining budget lawmakers must settle in their alternative to Gov. Jim Gibbons’ $6.2 billion budget.

Several lawmakers left the meeting visibly upset as a deadline for finishing the budget in time to override Gibbons’ veto looms.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford seems to be the cause of the frustration.

Democrats in the state Assembly and Republicans in both houses agree on a plan to cut higher education by 13 percent, but Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, wants a cut of just 12 percent, according to Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno.

That disagreement amounts to just $14 million out of the multibillion-dollar budget, she said.

“Steven Horsford has drawn a line in the sand,” Leslie said. In the group of a dozen key lawmakers negotiating the matter, “the majority of people have come to conclude that 13 percent is as far as we can stretch on the revenue side.”

Horsford said the amount in dispute was “silly” but that his priority is protecting education and he has gone as far as he is willing to go.

Is Sen. Horsford right or wrong? No one knows because these negotiations are all taking place behind closed doors and the average citizen is only able to get information from the media, which is also being denied access. The Review-Journal had an excellent editorial today calling out the legislature for hiding their plans for a record or near-record tax increase.

It’s time to open the doors on the Nevada Legislature’s secret tax meetings. After all, the politicians are going to open your wallets to pay for it.