Senate Republicans going wobbly

Victor Joecks

It looks like some of the Republicans are going to cave on tax increases.

But Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, said Thursday that he thought the sides were close to a deal, with only two small issues standing in the way of an agreement on public employee benefit and bargaining changes.

“It sounds like everything is coming together,” said Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas.

Democrats had agreed to dial back pensions and retiree health benefits for new public employees. Firefighter, police, teacher and other public employee unions – some of the party’s key constituencies – gave the legislators heat for bending during negotiations.

Meanwhile, Republicans said their votes on taxes – two are needed to pass a tax package and override a Gibbons veto – were contingent on those changes.

The only question left is whether the Republicans will defend their anthill – minor reforms in the state’s employees retirement system – or give that up as well.

Some Senate Republicans, though, say they’ll go along with the higher taxes if Democrats agree to support minor reforms to the state’s generous public employee retirement benefits.

Yet the reforms currently being advocated go nowhere near this far. Rather than move all new hires onto a 401(k)-style, defined contribution plan, legislation introduced Tuesday in the Senate requires future employees to put in a few more years before cashing their golden ticket, among other small tweaks. It does next to nothing to shrink those massive unfunded liabilities.

This is the GOP’s puny price for going along with massive tax increases.

The reports aren’t promising.

Oceguera said the tentative agreement does not include a requirement demanded earlier Thursday by Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, that no pensions should be given to public employees before they turn 62.

“He may have budged on that,” Oceguera quipped.

As I’ve said before, these last few hours will beat anything you’ll see at the box office all summer. But with a secret, job-killing, record billion dollar tax increase on the horizon, it looks like this show will end badly for Nevada’s businesses and families.

Tax increases kill Nevada jobs