Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Behind the Scenes (& Behind the Curtain) in Carson City
It's one thing to read Jon Ralston's musings on what's happening behind the scenes in Carson City, and it's something else to read Anjeanette Damon's reports on what may actually be on the legislative agenda. However, there's really no substitute for actually being there in person and seeing first-hand the negotiations and political games being played behind the scenes.
I was actually on The Senate floor right after they had "committee of the whole" to discuss the budget. I could sense the relief of Sandoval's new plan to restore a bit of the funding he wanted cut, but there seems to be broad agreement that it's still not enough, and that the only real solution is to ditch Sandoval's gimmicks and look at actual revenue solutions.
I actually talked with a Republican legislator who admitted all this (and more!) to me. This legislator said that Sandoval's proposal is a non-starter, that the 2009 tax deal will likely have to be extended, and that there's a possibility of further taxes being agreed upon... If they are satisfied with union concessions.
There really is an intriguing game of political chess happening in Carson City right now. Democratic leadership is figuring out where to find the votes to pass an actual balanced budget, and Republican leadership is trying to find "cover" so they can provide enough votes for a budget that won't anger "we the people" too much.
I had a chance to talk with three of my favorite legislators this week on what's happening up north. My Senator, Shirley Breeden (D-Henderson) (the first photo on top is of me with her and Parks), is busy doing her "homework", studying the numbers, and pressing for a final budget that keeps kids in school and keeps our hope for a better economy alive. David Parks (D-Paradise) is working hard on a number of LGBTQ equality bills (that you will be hearing more from me on soon!) and hopes for agreement on these as well as the budget. And as part of the new wave of Latin@ legislators providing some much needed representation in Carson, Ruben Kihuen is already off to an amazing start in The Senate... He even expressed some hope that his fellow legislators, especially on The Senate side, can work together this session.
Interestingly enough, there may actually be some opportunities for just that. That Republican legislator I spoke with was willing to keep an open mind on AB 211, the transgender inclusive workplace non-discrimination bill. Another Republican legislator apparently expressed concern over Sandoval's proposed budget cuts this week, and signaled support for the LGBTQ equality bills. And even though GOP leadership are playing "hard to get" right now in demanding some of the same union busting run amok in Wisconsin and Michigan, they may also be realizing that they can only ask for so much, and that it may not be too smart to antagonize working Nevadans when they've already sacrificed plenty and are ready to share in even more sacrifice this year.
Hopefully, what I saw behind the scenes in Carson City this week are real signs of hope that our Legislature will be working on actual solutions that will make Nevada an even better state. The "sausage making process" may be messy, but let's keep pushing them to ensure the final product is safe for human consumption.
(By the way, I just want to thank Senators Breeden, Kihuen, and Parks for the warm welcome, as well as those GOP legislators who are willing to do their "homework" and put the people of Nevada first. Oh, and PLAN lobbyist and legislative whiz Jan Gilbert is awesome... Go follow her on Twitter @jangilbert1. NOW!) ;-)