Sen. Horsford flip-flops on transparency

Victor Joecks

During the 2009 Legislative Session, a core group of legislators, led by Sen. Steven Horsford, Sen. Bill Raggio and Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, met for weeks behind closed doors to negotiate a record-setting, job-killing, billion-dollar (with the room tax) tax increase. As a result of these secret meetings, the public had only a few days to learn about, and give lawmakers their opinions on, the tax increases before the legislature passed them.

So I was greatly surprised when I read this last week.

When legislators determine state government spending priorities at their special session later this month, the decision-making process will be an open one if Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford has his way.

Unlike what occurred at several recent special sessions, Nevadans will be allowed to testify and decisions on what budgets and programs will be cut to make up for an $881 million revenue shortfall won’t be made behind closed doors, his spokesman said Thursday.

“He wants open and transparent government,” said Dave Berns, Horsford’s spokesman. “He doesn’t want to be accused of making the decisions behind closed doors.”

As part of his open government theme, the Las Vegas Democrat encourages Southern Nevadans to speak up on the reductions Saturday during a town hall meeting in Las Vegas, Berns said. [Emphasis added]

Now while I applaud Sen. Horsford for wanting “open and transparent government,” his timing – wanting to highlight reductions to the unsustainable budgets of years past – is more than slightly suspicious.

Let’s hope he’s actually committed to transparency and won’t just follow in the footsteps of another Democratic legislative leader who paraded around the idea of transparency for political purposes and then abandoned it when secrecy was politically convenient.

I’ve left a message at Sen. Horsford’s office to get his comments on the transparency issue. I will let you know if I get a response.