Wednesday, April 27, 2011

True Lies

[... A]fter another beautifully choreographed maneuver Tuesday, a near-perfect synergy of politics and policy, the administration has served notice to some apparently overmatched legislative opponents that he is playing in a different league. After adding back nearly $50 million in social service programs Tuesday, Sandoval will announce next week that an estimated $100 million-plus of additional funding from renewed economic projections will pour into education.

And then, five weeks from the end of the regular session, the governor will essentially smile, look across the courtyard and say, “I have been beneficent. I have salvaged social service programs and diminished the education cuts. For you, my dear Democratic friends, it’s either take that or show the world all you care about is raising taxes.”

It is beautifully horrific, like the Peckinpah ballet of violence at the end of “The Wild Bunch.” You stand back and admire the skill and craftsmanship, trying to forget the carnage left in its wake.

Team Sandoval gathered reporters Tuesday afternoon to take us through a panoply of programs being restored because of found money, mostly in Medicaid, that came from reduced caseloads and federal changes. The inestimable Mike Willden, the Health and Human Services boss, checked off the programs being restored, showing clear satisfaction that what he called “core services” were being resurrected.

But as he went through the list, I smiled knowingly as I saw that key rural programs were in the mix — programs certain GOP lawmakers who might be pressured to raise taxes to preserve them needed to have returned to the budget. If you believe this is a coincidence, you also think Donald Trump is a serious man.

I wanted to applaud, but it seemed inappropriate.

So Jon Ralston is admiring the "beautiful carnage" of Brian Sandoval's budget of "true lies". So Sandoval can now have everything he wants and have us all worship at his feet? Are we all supposed to be blinded by Brian Sandoval's "political mastery" and ignore the butchery of his plan to destroy Nevada as we know it?

Maybe not? Maybe the budget isn't yet a done deal?

Asked whether Sandoval’s moves would weaken their leverage, Democrats were quick to point out that the budget is in their hands now.

“The budget is being developed by this body and these are just his recommendations,” said Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, chairwoman of Ways and Means.

Some Republicans agree. Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, who was among those lobbying Sandoval to rethink his cuts to autism treatment, said he’s pleased Sandoval is still involved in the process.

“But it’s up to the Legislature to decide how to plug it back in,” Kieckhefer added.

As for not negotiating with Democrats, Kieckhefer said “the ability to negotiate add backs is contingent on an ability to locate the money.”

In other words, Democrats need to stop playing coy with their revenue plans.

Still, Democrats have enough of a majority to make the ultimate decision on where additional revenue goes.

As for Republicans who may want to rely on the governor: “They may be in for a surprise,” Leslie said.

Indeed, The Legislature ultimately has final authority on what's in the budget and what is allocated where. Republicans can't just count on Sandoval to spare their districts while pointing his red ink pens at urban areas.

Are we supposed to ignore what's actually happening throughout the state? Are we supposed to accept this bizarre suspension of belief in Carson City? Are we supposed to accept, "They don't get it. We don't care." as a legitimate position on keeping the state functioning?

Are we now supposed to accept this for "state government"? Or will we say enough to "Arnold Sandoval" and his true lies?

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