Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reality Check

Over the weekend, something interesting happened. Jon Ralston announced his campaign for Governor. Wait... What??!!

Calm down. Ralston is not actually running for Governor next year. Rather, he was just fantasizing his ideal Gubernatorial Campaign. And he imagined a kick-off speech starting like this.

It’s time to believe in a new Nevada – a place where education is valued, where fair share really is fair and where silly tax pledges are replaced with thoughtful public policy.

We have been a state of half-measures – nay, quarter- or eighth-measures – for too long. When I hear the governor’s administration say it is pleased with this national education report card, I am shocked. And, yes, I am ashamed.

As we all should be. So far, so good.

Ralston's imaginary campaign kickoff speech also touched on the trap that the Governor and Legislature have always been falling into with each passing biennium. It's the same trap that manifested itself yet again during the 77th session of the Nevada Legislature earlier this year. And it's the same trap that only leads to even more trouble for this state.

So now, we're back at Square One. We're back at "Gov Rec" and everyone's favorite silly Sunset Taxes. And we're back to our regularly scheduled chronic underfunding of our public infrastructure.

Of course, Governor "Magic Man" is hailing this as a huge victory. And yes, it's a major political victory for him. But for the people of this state, it's another in a very long string of policy FAILs. The most "juiced up" corporate special interests will continue paying just above nothing while We the People continue to suffer overcrowded & dilapidated schools, severely strained health care, transportation in disrepair, and more.

But at least this time, we can still hold onto the promise of a better tomorrow. Sure, it won't actually come tomorrow. But with The Education Initiative on next year's general election ballot, We the People will finally have the opportunity to do what the Governor and many legislators simply refuse to do. We the People will finally have the chance to begin fixing our anachronous, broken tax system while also mending our tattered social safety net. And frankly, it's long past time for We the People to carpe diem.

Oh, yes. That's right. We went there... In May.

And frankly, that's the truth. The only way we will accomplish meaningful tax reform in the immediate future is by passing The Education Initiative (TEI) next year.

But of course, here's where Ralston & I part ways.

The margin tax, which the governor makes sound like the apocalypse, is not the answer. But who can blame anyone for supporting it because of the governor no-tax pledge, which has as many asterisks as the baseball record book, the Legislature’s serial inaction, compounded by buck-passing "enabling" tax measures.

I have thought long and hard about this, and I will not vote for the margin tax. Setting tax policy at the ballot box is a terrible last resort, and I’m here to tell you I have another plan.

This is perhaps the wildest fantasy in Ralston's fantasy campaign speech. Frankly, there is no other realistic plan for actual tax reform. Governor Brian Sandoval (R-Denial) isn't offering one, and we've yet to see a Democratic challenger emerge with one.

So where does that leaves us. It leaves us with three letters... And a certain 2014 ballot initiative.

Yes, "ballot box budgeting" can be messy. I know from personal experience. Ralston seems to buy into Pete Ernaut's spin... Even though he's had to admit that what just happened was a complete clusterf**k!

For all the wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth over the fears of California style direct democracy coming to Nevada, we must ask this: Is it really a bad thing? California now has a budget surplus and additional education funding thanks to Prop 30. And Prop 30 was pursued because an extreme obstructionist minority refused to cooperate on realistic budget solutions. [...]

Sure, in an ideal world, this wouldn't have to happen. However, we're not in an ideal world. We're in Nevada. In order to make this state a better place, we must build a more stable and diversified economy. And in order to do that, we must better invest in our public infrastructure. And if the Governor and Legislature can't act to make that happen, then we the people must.

I wrote those words in March. I stick by those words now. And I'll likely be repeating these same words throughout 2014.

Sure, Ralston has a point about this not being an ideal situation. Honestly, it's not. We elect legislators and a Governor to enact budgets and determine state funding.

But really, is the status quo an ideal situation? Come on, we all know the honest answer to that. (Which is: Hell, no!)

In an ideal world, TEI would have never gone as far as it has. However, we don't live in an ideal world We live in 2014 Nevada with a tax code still stuck in 1864.

This is why TEI will be on our ballot next year. Our state's "political elite" are in sore need of a cold, hard reality check. And right now, the only way for that reality check to arrive in Carson City is if the voters deliver it directly to them in November 2014.

While Ralston's weekend column made for a nice fantasy, it's time for a reality check. And yes, it's time for TEI.

No comments:

Post a Comment