Media not happy with Nevada Legislature’s secret tax and budget meetings, either

Victor Joecks

Last week, I wrote about how select legislators were meeting in secret to craft a record or near-record tax package.

Yesterday, both the Review-Journal and the Sun wrote on the secret meetings.

The Review-Journal explains why it’s so important to keep the public out of the negotiations:

The (tax) package might be common knowledge to insiders, but not having a formal proposal allows lawmakers to avoid attacks for their plans, and to build consensus behind the scenes so that a proposal can be presented as a done deal.

From the Sun:

The big legislative news last week came when subcommittees voted to set spending levels for sections of the budget.

The votes happened in public, but with little drama. The real work to build the consensus had taken place in hours of closed-door meetings.

The public never sees the true debate over Nevada’s future, which has occurred this ession in “core group” meetings, where legislators of both parties hammer out deals.

In Carson City, cries for openness are often met with eye rolls. (Emphasis added.)

Yep, those pesky citizens are such a pain. It’s outrageous that they want to know how the legislature is going to spend taxpayer dollars. How generous of legislators to put up with the sniffling, insufferable normal people.

Oh wait, we live in America? Scrap that. Open the doors on the Nevada Legislature’s secret tax meetings, because legislators are abusing the privilege for political convenience.

Legislators might have had good intentions in exempting themselves from the state’s open meeting law, “but they’re abusing it,” said Barry Smith, executive director of the Nevada Press Association.

“Obviously, the most important discussions going on this session we’re not getting to hear, and people are left hanging as to what’s going on and what those discussions are. The whole future of the state is hanging on it, and the public is not being allowed to be part of the process.”

Smith said the solution lies not in a policy change, but in lawmakers “just upholding their own ideals.”