Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Editorial: Budget balances get even tighter

The unnamed Courier editor opines on the state budget impasse. Too bad he has no knowledgable sources. I gather that Fox News isn't covering it.

The editor quotes freshman legislator Steve Pierce (R-Las Vegas Ranch) asserting that the governor did "not only reject parts of the budget she had agreed to earlier in the year, 'she increased taxes, and increased spending, and left the state's finances unconstitutionally out of balance.'"

Had the editor bothered to check with the senior member of our legislative delegation, Lucy Mason, or any reporter covering the legislature, he'd have learned that the governor line-item-vetoed specific parts of the budget package to hold them as bargaining chips to draw legislative leaders, including Mr Pierce, back to the table to talk about revenues. The budget the legislature passed out was far from balanced, as required by the constitution, because the far right, including Mr Pierce, refused to talk about enhancing revenues to bring about balance.

The governor did not, in fact, raise taxes in any way. She is proposing that the legislature simply allow an initiative to go to the voters that would raise the sales tax temporarily, and she refused to accept substantial cuts in business taxes, again as a negotiating tactic -- she will eventually. She can't "raise spending," that's the province of the legislature. (The governor controls a big pile of federal cash, but that's outside the budget process.) The editor is either fundamentally misunderstanding both the process of government and the facts on the ground, or he is consciously lying to his readers.

As for the governor having "alienated many of the lawmakers who were trying to help keep the house from falling," it takes two to tango, and as I read it there are a whole lot of moderates in both houses who are more peeved with the tactics of certain far-right members than they are with the governor.

This is a Republican-on-Republican fight, pitting experienced moderates like Brewer and Mason against radicals like Pam Gorman, Ron Gould, Russell Pearce and their little clutch of neophyte sycophants. It's interesting that the editor is happy to take the word of a legislator still learning the ropes over that of Brewer, who has more experience in the legislature and administration than most anyone down there, as well as strong conservative credentials.

The editor has clearly chosen the side of the antigovernment radicals. I have no problem with that per se. My issue is that he is attempting to influence public opinion in their favor by misleading readers about what's really going on.

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